Your Home Insurance Could Be Invalidated Through “Insta-Bragging”

Insta-Bragging is reaching new levels as people rush to create their perfect life on a perfect holiday with their perfect partner on social media. The alarming consequences of posting a “vacant house” sign on social media are that house insurers may soon invalidate policies if they find that you have advertised the fact that your home is empty.

In this article we shall examine:

  • The social media “brag culture”
  • Insurance companies may soon question claims on house insurance policies
  • How many internet-savvy thieves rely on social media
  • Some holiday snaps cost celebrities hundreds of thousands
  • Some ways to protect yourself from tech-savvy criminals

What exactly is “Insta-bragging”?

It seems that the whole world has become obsessed with showing their great life achievements through a series of photographs on social media. It is as if they feel the need to inform the world of their new cars, gadgets, expensive holidays and groups of beautiful friends to prove that they are living life to the full.

The alarming consequences of posting a “vacant house” sign on social media are that house insurers may soon invalidate policies.

This brag culture has made many people obsessed with proving to the world that they are loved, popular and wealthy. It makes you wonder if, when people meet up with groups of friends in beautiful places, their focus is really on the now of enjoying these special moments or on how great this image will look on Instagram and how many likes they will manage to get.

Insurers may not pay out if you advertise your absence and get burgled

The Financial Ombudsman Service has warned the public of the dangers of posting their whereabouts on social media. This has come from regional police reports of clear links between holiday posts and the increase of burglary. The service also said that you would not put up a sign outside your house informing the public that you were going on holiday and will be absent, so why would you post that fact on social media to a group of strangers?

A vacant house whose owners are on holiday

Insurance companies expect their policy holders to take “reasonable care” with regard to their home security measures. This usually refers to windows being securely locked and doors having extra chub locking systems and not being left unlocked. If insurers could prove by checking social media sites that you had advertised your absence, they could question any claim that you make and reduce pay outs or even refuse to pay out at all.

How do thieves use social media to find victims?

Today’s tech-savvy home intruders are trawling the web to find homes that are empty and ripe for the picking. In recent data collected by ADT, the alarm and security systems provider, it was found that 78% of burglars rely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out information about possible targets. These social media platforms are the perfect place for thieves to gather information as people post pictures of expensive gifts, the interior of their home and their whereabouts.

The geotagging functions on smartphones can show your exact whereabouts to people who may be very interested to know.

It is not only holidaymakers that are targeted. People that post details of their daily routine or a planned engagement that they are attending can unwittingly alert intruders to the times that they are absent from home. The geotagging functions on smartphones can show your exact whereabouts to people who may be very interested to know. By using this function and google street maps, potential thieves can check out your property from the comfort of their armchair.

Holiday snaps have cost some people a lot of money

Former England football captain, John Terry, was recently the victim of a house theft that cost him four hundred thousand pounds. The football star’s home was burgled after he shared beautiful alpine pictures on Instagram, with his 3.4 million followers, of him and his wife enjoying a mini-break. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery, handbags and a collection of first edition Harry Potter books were among items that were stolen. A gang of thieves have been charged with the burglary that has been linked to a series of seven break-ins to luxury homes in the surrounding area.

A picture of a computer monitor showing the feed of a home CCTV system

Many of our favourite entertainers are falling victim to robberies

In Los Angeles, a task force has been formed to investigate the recent spate of thefts on celebrity homes. An alarming amount of celebrities have recently been targeted by thieves who are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expensive possessions. Police say that some celebs may be to blame by continually posting pictures of themselves draped in their luxury items and by not having the correct security measures in place in their homes.

So what have we learned so far?

  • Insta-bragging is posting photographs on social media designed to make people envious of one’s perfect life.
  • The Financial Ombudsman service has warned about the danger of social media posts
  • Police have linked burglaries to social media posts
  • Insurers may not be prepared to cover home insurance policies if the house has been advertised as empty on social media
  • “Reasonable care” with regard to home security could now include dangerous social media posts
  • In the UK 78% of burglars search social media sites for victims
  • John Terry was burgled whilst posting holiday snaps on Instagram
  • Celebrities are being targeted in Los Angeles for the great wealth to be found in their homes

Here are some precautions that can be taken to prevent house invasion through social media posts

One of the first things that can be done to make your social media activities safer is to take a good, hard look at your Facebook friends list. How many of these people do you actually know? View your profile from a burglar’s perspective and if you find that your life is an open book full of personal information about your possessions, whereabouts and daily routine than it is time to make a few changes.

Facebook has privacy settings that  control who can see your information

Facebook has privacy settings that control who can see your posts, pictures and personal information. Use these to control who can contact you and what they can view. Friends of friends may contact you to become friends but these should be denied unless you check out the authenticity first with your friend. Many fraudsters can gain access to your personal information in this manner.

Keep quiet about upcoming holidays and your daily routine

By posting details of an upcoming trip on social media, thieves can see exactly when and for how long your home will be vacant. It is the digital equivalent of putting a poster outside your house telling people that you are absent, or leaving the front door wide open.

Most burglaries occur in the hours between 9 am and 2 pm when people are out of their homes. You can unwittingly advertise the fact that you are absent from home in numerous ways on social media. Tweets from a fancy restaurant or items posted for sale asking any interest parties to contact you after 5 pm all all alert intruders of the times that you are away from home.

Shut down social media location tagging features

GPS enabled smartphones are used by many to get directions to a place that is hard to find. The problem with these features is that by posting on social media while these functions are activated your exact location is revealed. This gives people the information that they may be seeking about your whereabouts or the location of your home. Some social media sites allow you to turn off this function to protect your privacy.

A smartphone screen showing social media apps, which allow you to disable location services to better protect your privacy

Smartphones and social media are the modern way of keeping in touch with friends and family through posts and beautiful pictures. It is important to remember that these precious details about your personal life can be viewed and misused by strangers who may want to cause you harm. It is a fact nowadays, that our information is being used against us and careful thought should be taken before sharing information on social media.

So what can we conclude from this article?

It appears that people bragging on social media about their interesting, successful lives could actually find themselves in a lot of trouble. Cyber crime is on the increase worldwide and police agencies are taking steps to prevent more from taking place. Police regularly use social media sites to catch out known criminals who post incriminating evidence against themselves. With tech savvy criminals trawling sites to glean damaging information on their targets, it is time that more people begin to pay attention to the information that they put out there for the whole world to take advantage of.

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