Are you in the process of planning your winter getaway? People can’t wait to share their travel destinations and photos with their friends on social media. However, this is a critical time to step away from social media to protect your family and home. Social media networks are growing in number and popularity every day. Yet, surprisingly, users are increasingly less careful with the personal information they share with their “friends.” You may think you have a firm grasp on who your friends are but many people forget that there are people they’ve accepted as friends that are merely acquaintances, people they haven’t seen in many years, or maybe they’re friends of friends and not someone you personally know well.

When users post updates on social media, especially those that are less selective in accepting friend requests, they are opening themselves up to sharing important and private information with some people that will use the information to take advantage of you and your home.

5 Social Media Tips to Protect You and Your Home

  • Announcing Vacation Plans. Taking a vacation is a wonderful thing and sharing the news is exciting, but it also indicates that no one will be home for a period of time. This sends a red alert that your home is most likely vacant, which could lead to a break-in or squatters. Also, unless your mail is stopped while you’re away, a thief may also have access to your mailbox and important mail.
  • Sharing Photos of Your Home and Things. Did you get something new for your home? Did you just get engaged? Did you just remodel a room? These are times many people like to snap a photo and share on social media, but these photos are also telling of what else you have in your home and if there’s something worth stealing. Your photo may show TV’s and computers, a pricey engagement ring, a plethora of gifts around the tree, or expensive artwork. Before you share, think about what you’re showing your followers.
  • RSVP’s. Any time you publicly RSVP to parties, school events, concerts or any other event, you’re giving an intruder an invitation to target your home—after all, you’re going to be busy that night! Social media may not give away your home address, but with the internet it’s not hard to find out.
  • Check-Ins. You’re somewhere cool and can’t wait to share it with your followers so you “check-in”—whether it’s a new restaurant or vacation spot. Businesses often encourage customers to check in and may even offer a reward for sharing it. But check-ins tell followers that you’re not at home and if you tag your friends, you’re putting them at risk too.
  • Gift Giving Occasions.Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, graduations, and other gift giving occasions are always a lot of fun and it’s tempting to post all the details. Refrain from showing off that new diamond necklace your love interest bestowed upon you for Valentine’s Day on Instagram or Facebook. Those with bad intentions will be highly interested in your new valuable addition and may follow your schedule on social media to determine when you will or will not be home.

To help prevent home security issues from happening to you, be mindful of who you accept as a “friend” on social media. Really consider what you’re sharing and with whom you’re sharing it. Think of it this way, if all your social media friends were in a big room, would you tell the entire crowd you’re going away and your home will be left vacant? If your answer is no, then you shouldn’t be sharing it on social media. Consider this and not only your home, but your privacy as a whole will be better protected. Also consider which security services to look for just in case your gone for extended periods of time.

Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for PeopleLooker is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. It helps people discover, understand, and use public data in their everyday lives and can provide peace of mind by offering a fast, easy, and affordable way to do background checks. PeopleLooker allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, criminal backgrounds, and property records.