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News Features  


 

Thieves can track your address down in one minute

Constant holiday updates on social networking sites are a handy way of letting your friends know what you are up to.
But there may be others who have a more sinister interest in your online posts.
Facebook and Twitter users are increasing the risk of being burgled when they announce their holiday plans online, a study has warned.
Opportunist thieves are able to track down an address from a website posting within 60 seconds.
Researchers looked at messages such as ‘packing my cases’ to another which said ‘just landed’ with a smiley face only hours after their location was given as ‘Manchester Airport.’
A quick check on their family name and, for instance, the name of their child’s school, cross-referenced with online address databases soon revealed the exact location of their home.
And as they are on holiday, there is a high chance the home is empty, said the authors of the study conducted jointly by Co-operative Travel and Co-operative Insurance
Children are often the worst offenders, with 51 per cent of youngsters updating their status when they are about to go on holiday.
And the growth of wi-fi and internet connections abroad mean they are also telling everyone where they are while away.
Almost half of ten to 15-year-olds (45 per cent) own smartphones which enable them to update their location, status and other details on a much more regular basis.
The survey of 3,000 Britons found that 44 per cent have Facebook friends or Twitter followers that they have never met.
And 37 per cent have no privacy settings in place so anyone can look at their accounts - including potential burglars.
Trevor Davis, Director of Retail Distribution for The Co-operative Travel, said it was no longer enough to simply double lock the front door and stop milk being delivered.
He said: ‘The traditional precautions people take to protect their homes whilst they’re on holiday are being undermined by the growth in social media.
‘This is particularly true for families with teenage children, who perhaps aren’t as aware of the need to avoid telling strangers that your house will be unoccupied.
‘This year’s holidaymakers are likely to be particularly vulnerable, due to the growing availability of wi-fi connections in hotels and resorts.
‘This is allowing people to keep updating their accounts while abroad and inevitably raises the awareness that the user is away from home.’
Co-op researchers went online to look at social media sites, including Facebook and Foursquare, to see how easy it is to trace an address for someone on holiday.
The quickest discovery took just one minute.
The posting said ‘heading home to pack my case cause me going on holiday for few days’.
Using the person’s surname and hometown, the researchers found just two addresses in that town for that surname.
Another message said ‘is it wrong to be going on holiday on Friday and wishing you weren’t’.
It took just two minutes to track the person after finding the name of their school in an earlier posting and matching their surname to an address near the school.
Another search took just three minutes. The status update said ‘has landed’ with a smiley face. A few hours later their location had been tagged as ‘Manchester Airport’.
A local town was mentioned and there were four addresses in that town relating to the poster’s surname but only one which also matched his name and his mother’s.
– [Daily Mail]