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25 or so years ago I contributed to a piece in The News (Portsmouth’s local newspaper) with my top tips to prevent your home being burgled while you’re on holiday.

Much of the advice is still good – have a friend visit every couple of days to clear the doormat of the post and junk mail – make sure that someone puts some rubbish in the bin – have the house lights on a timer, that kind of thing.

But some of that advice isn’t really relevant anymore. Few people have a daily newspaper delivery that would need to be canceled, and even fewer have a daily milk delivery.

But of course, the world moves on. The vast majority of us now have social media profiles. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, most of us like to use these new services to let our friends know what’s going on in our lives.

But here’s the thing.

If you Tweet or Insta a holiday photo, you let everyone who follows you know that you are on holiday. You let everyone know that you are not at home for a prolonged period of time. Oh, whoops, did you use #holiday? Now you’ve let everyone in the world know your house is empty.

Did you post it on Facebook? Yeah, great, you can show off to your old school friends how much money you spent on your big summer break. And a couple of them Liked it. And so all of their friends see that Like, and they now know your house is empty.

Can we take a moment to reflect on that?






You don’t know who is seeing that information. Would you walk through your local shopping centre, holding up a big banner saying that your house is empty? No, of course, you wouldn’t. But that is exactly what you are doing posting your holiday photos on social media. Or posting your “countdown to holiday”. Or even just any post, with the foreign location, tagged.

And you would be amazed at how easy it is to identify your address from your online profiles. I’m not going to go into detail about how it’s done, that would be irresponsible of me, but please trust me on this. All it takes is a bit of logical deduction.

And this isn’t just me saying it. Admiral Insurance reckons that 1 in 20 burglaries reported to their claims team occurred whilst their policyholder was on holiday, whilst interiors firm Hillarys found that 1 in 12 people had been burgled after posting their location abroad on social media.

What’s worse is that your home insurance might not cover you.

In the vast majority of policies, there is a general clause saying that you must take “Reasonable Care” to protect your home. This covers them for when people don’t lock their back door when they go out, that kind of thing. And it could be construed that posting the fact that your home is empty on social media is not taking reasonable care.

Now in fairness, the big players, companies like Admiral, Aviva, Direct Line, all advise that they would not wriggle out of a claim by using this get-out clause.

But there are some smaller companies who might. The ones with the low premiums that you find on comparison websites.

Remember this is the industry who, in the late 1980s, were rejecting burglary claims because a door didn’t have a British Standard lock on it, even when the burglary was made through a window.

So, what’s my advice?

Well, first, make sure that your profiles are as private as they can be. Use each platform’s FAQ section to get their advice.

Secondly, remove all personal information from your profile.

Next, take a good, long, critical look at your friend’s list. Are they actually, genuinely, a friend? Do you really trust them? Are you comfortable with them knowing everything about you? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then unfriend them.

Turn off location tagging in the apps on your phone.

Next, log out of each social network, and then search for yourself. That way, you can see what strangers see about you. Is there any information you can see now that really shouldn’t be visible? Log back in and edit it out.

Lastly, set up a private messaging group, using Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or Snapchat, and just add those people that really do care about you, and that you really trust, and use that to share your photos. Don’t publish them in a public area until you are home.

And then relax and enjoy your holiday.


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