Dumb Money: Telling the Internet You’re Not Home

by Kevin on September 23, 2010

Being robbed is no laughing matter. Having your home broken into leaves you with a great sense of violation, or so I’m told. It can take weeks or months to get over.

Short story: a few months after my wife and I moved into our brand new home we thought someone was trying to rob us while we were in the house. It got to the point that we got into the master closet and called 911, had the sheriff’s come out, and all that jazz.

It turns out we weren’t being robbed, but the experience still haunted us for months (me in particular). For at least the next 6 months I would wake up at the first sound of anything in the middle of the night. Your typical house creaks and pops, the refrigerator cycling on and off, the door moving slightly in the frame when the heat turned on and off… all started me enough to wake up and begin sweating.

It was absolutely horrible. We’ll attribute some of those gray hairs on my head to that time in our lives.

Social Media and Home Safety

We’ve established being robbed or feeling like you might be robbed is a horrible experience.

So I’ve got to ask, why do people do things like this with their social media accounts:

This is absolutely real. I just searched on Twitter for vacation and that pops up.

You’re telling everyone on the internet that you won’t be home for two weeks. Okay, sure, someone might be left at home… but it sounds like her whole family is going. She’s a prime target to be robbed while enjoying her time in Hawaii.

Of course they might have an alarm system or other security measures… but it’s just downright dumb to tell the whole world you won’t be around for two weeks. You’re just asking to be robbed.

Don’t believe me?

Look at her profile information:

Post you won't be home on twitter and get robbed

That’s her full name with the last name blotted out by me. She lists her full name and her city. No big deal right?

Well I did a Google search of her full name in Stoughton, Massachusetts. You’ll never guess what I found. She’s listed in the phone book with her home phone number and physical address listed.

Now I have the address, her name, and I know she’ll be out of town for half of a month sometime soon. If I were a criminal looking for a target, man, one has just come pre-screened for me. Makes my job a lot easier.

I mean you honestly might as well do this (pssst… it’s not real but hopefully my point is made):

Tell Facebook You'll Be Gone

Don’t believe that you can robbed through this methods? Think again. Check out this article from the NY Times. Three guys¬†burglarized¬†18 homes by just looking at Facebook updates.

Dumb.

Oh, and don’t use social media while you’re on vacation, too. Posting an update to your Facebook profile with a gallery of where you’re currently at is also telling criminals that you’re not around the house.

Share Your Vacation Once You Return

I’m not saying to never share your life with your friends or show off how great the view was from your resort in the Caribbean.

Just don’t do it before you go. Share with the world (if you must) when you get back.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

philip September 23, 2010 at 6:45 am

I couldn’t agree more but if you use facebook or other social media very much it gets pretty hard to avoid. When even other people can send you messages about your trip. Also you sometimes post to see what others are up to and find out what friends in town might be headed out to do something.

Also sometimes pictures get posted by others as well. I try to keep the friends list down to ones that I know, even then I know it is not that hard to see others information. Others should be more concerned about doing this as well, recently knew someone who posted about 20 times the exact countdown to when they were leaving and when they were coming back (including delays). Fortunately they did have someone staying at their house but still…

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Golfing Girl September 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

Every time there is a new technology or product, there is a thief waiting to exploit it. Don’t kid yourselves that they aren’t smart either–they are very, very resourceful.

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Lissa September 30, 2010 at 10:06 am

Great article!! We do have an upcoming trip in November and even though I’ve told people on Twitter and FB that we’re leaving, I’m thinking more and more of not posting on Twitter and FB while we’re gone. Like you said, I can always share our experience afterwards.

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BetheBank September 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I personally know someone who was robbed while traveling abroad. Unfortunately, web updates (Twitter, Facebook) is a lifestyle and he uses it to connect to people while traveling, so not updating isn’t an option. He now uses a house sitter. I didn’t realize this service would be in demand.

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Steve in Denmark October 3, 2010 at 5:40 am

A very important post. Thanks for reminding people.
I think, as long as where you live, your address, isn’t immediately obvious (ie, DON’T put it, or your phone number(s) on Facebook), you’re reasonably ok.
You have to make yourself a less attractive target than the next guy.
We have a 24 hour a day monitored house alarm, and as the guy fitting it said; the most important part of the system are the stickers you put on the windows saying (in effect) ’24 hour monitored alarm installed here.’ If a thief has a choice, between two hoses, one that is alarmed, and one that clearly isn’t, then even he’s not dumb enough not to work out which one to try first.
I would, however, still never say ‘right, that’s me off to South of France for two weeks!’ Or, as someone on my Twitter said the other day (including a location) ‘Booked for Thailand! Roll on November XXth…’ Gives me PLENTY of time to find out where she is, prepare my robbery, etc.

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