Imagine relaxing on the beach, umbrella drink in hand. The kids are snapping photos... Your wife's reading a book... Your vacation is perfect.
Then you get a call from back home. It's the police. Someone broke into your home... Your laptop, jewelry, and television are all gone.
And the nightmare gets worse. Your insurance company won't cover a penny. The reason... you and your kids posted on social media that you and the family were all out of state on a weeklong vacation.
That nightmare is closer to reality than you might think. Although to date no insurance company has denied a claim solely on social media posts, more and more insurance companies now use our online activity to decide coverage and claims.
For instance, Contego Services Group provides in-depth investigations for insurance companies. They dedicate a major unit in their company to social media. This unit scours everything on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Facebook data even busted some fraudulent claims, including one case where women in a car accident claimed not to know one another... Except, come to find out, they were friends on Facebook.
In the U.K., more and more insurance providers now search social media for evidence of vacation "advertising" saying that it breaks a clause in insurance contracts known as "reasonable care." Reasonable care means not doing anything reckless that would make you a target. You wouldn't go on vacation without locking your house and making sure the stove is off... so why post on the Internet that you're going to be gone?
That's why it wouldn't surprise us if we start to see social media used in burglary claims.
Insurance aside, posting all that information online is downright irresponsible. According to one survey of convicted burglars, an estimated 75% of burglars use social media to find potential targets.
Now, I know some of you reading this aren't on any social websites... but there's a good chance your kids or grandkids are. Make sure they know these guidelines and stick to them. Regardless of insurance coverage, nothing will ruin your vacation faster than a break-in.
Here are a few common-sense rules for social media use...
1) Turn off your location. Make sure your phone's GPS is turned off and if you post anything online, make sure the location tagging is turned off. You can find a how-to guide right here.
2) Post later. This is a great rule my assistants use. If you go on vacation, enjoy the vacation. Don't spend time posting about your experiences and instead simply enjoy them. If you want to share photos, do it after you get home.
3) Don't advertise. You might want to show off last year's Christmas gifts of a big new TV or an expensive watch, but keep it off the Internet. You wouldn't keep these things out in plain sight with the curtains open for thieves to see from the street. So why make it easier for them by posting it online?
4) Never post your home address. A good rule of thumb is to never share identifiable information online, particularly on social media. That includes checking sites like Google Maps where you can see a "street view" of your home. Make sure nothing is obvious or exposed (like an open window with a view of your belongings or an open garage). Click here to find your home.
5) Keep it private. Facebook in particular updates its privacy settings on occasion. Take the time to always read through those and limit who sees what on your profile.
It's always better to be careful. Use these tips to protect your loved ones next time you travel. Share them with your friends and family today. And for added security, don't forget our best house-proofing tips to ward off burglars. You can find the full list right here.
What We're Reading...
- More online privacy tips from security firm Norton.
- Want to go completely off the grid? Try this.
- Something different: Have you tried searching "The Mesh"?
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
August 3, 2017