Are you inviting robbers into your home? If you (or your kids) are sharing too many details about your whereabouts and plans for upcoming vacations on your Facebook status updates, Twitter, Foursquare, or any other online "sharing" site, you may be letting thieves know when it's safe to rob you. Have you given much thought to how much information you share online? If you haven't, it may be time that you did so --before it's too late.
How Much "I" is "TMI"?
Written by Jodi Pratt, Director of Business Development, Co-Founder of the Foundation for Payments Fraud Abatement & Activism, Inc. and FraudAvengers.org. Re-posted with permission.
You gotta love the ability for frequent communications with all of your dearest buddies. While you may or may not be particularly interested in what they have for breakfast every morning, generally speaking the opportunity that social networks like Facebook and Twitter provide for us to keep "connected" with the people we love is a marvelous thing. They help us maintain the high degree of intimacy we cherish, regardless of time and space, without catching each other's colds or conceiving babies.
But there is a dark side to virtual communication-it's hard to know when there are criminal eavesdroppers in our virtual community. We can't control where the information goes, and once it's out there, it's easy for your information to go beyond the people you know and trust.
When the Hyman family in Mesa, Arizona was ready to leave for a trip to Kansas City, they tweeted to their friends that they would be on the road for 10 hours. Sometime during that 10 hour period, their house was robbed. While there is no conclusive proof that the tweet was the source of the tip-off, Mr. Hyman feels sure that it was.
How much information is "too much information" (TMI) to share in a virtual environment?
Hopefully, the theft of his professional video-editing equipment will prove to be the extent of his loss. But if any of the Hymans' had left their personal or financial information on a table or in an unlocked desk drawer-such as a credit card statements, tax returns, a box of blank checks, student loan application-to name just a few documents that contain the pieces of information prized by criminals, the emotional and financial damage from their "identity theft" may continue on for years.
To reduce the possibility of sharing "TMI," discuss these issues with your family:
"Tweets" and comments on social networking "walls" or "pages" can be easily used by criminals to target you. Each family member should be taught why they should not forecast absences that can compromise their or the family's physical or financial security.
It's not a bad idea to also consider what you say on your answering machines and voicemail messages: "not available to take your call" may be a safer message than "out of town."
If you have kids, have them "friend" you to include you in their electronic social circle so you can keep an eye on what they and their friends are sharing.
Regardless of whether you or family members are or are not involved in social networking, it's just good practice to ensure that information that constitutes your financial identity, such as your social security number; your log-in IDs, passwords and security codes; your bank account, and debit and credit card numbers; your date of birth and birth place; your mother's maiden name, are kept out of site and under lock and key and safe from criminal break-ins-or even nosy visitors.
This blog was written by Jodi Pratt, Director of Business Development, Co-Founder of Foundation for Payments Fraud Abatement & Activism, Inc. and FraudAvengers.org.
Are you saying "Please Rob Me" by sharing TMI?
Still not convinced?
Watch the below video --or read a few of these stories linked below --and keep them in mind the next time you decide to post details about your whereabouts.
Couple says Facebook Vacation Bragging Prompted Robbery
Don't Tweet with Burglars
Mesa man thinks Twitter Lead to Robbery
Facebook Posting Allegedly Led to House Robbery
Woman Robbed by Facebook Friend
Facebook Status: I've just been robbed