Canadian Underwriter

Posting vacation plans, pictures could put polled Quebecers’ home security at risk: Allstate Canada

July 18, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Informing everyone via social media just how great a vacation is or is going to be could be putting Canadians’ largest investments – their homes – at risk of breaches in home security, notes a new survey issued Monday by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.

Almost a quarter of Quebecers, 23%, taking part in the Allstate Insurance poll said that in the past they have posted their absences or whereabouts on social media accounts on the Internet, notes a statement from Allstate Canada, which reports the poll, conducted in mid-June by Léger Marketing, was via a provincial omnibus online survey among a representative sample of 1,007 Quebecers.

The social media postings were markedly higher among respondents aged 18 to 24, 52% of whom have shared that they were travelling on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while 43% aged 25 to 34 age have done the same.

Just this summer, 33% of surveyed Quebecers posted that they plan to take at least a couple days of vacation during the construction holiday period, which runs July 24 to Aug. 6, Allstate Canada points out.

However, letting everyone know one’s whereabouts could unwittingly be putting their home security at risk, the insurer Canada contends. For example, Allstate Canada cautions that today’s cyber criminals are using information easily available to them online to plot break-ins on their potential victims’ homes.

“In the era of social networking, geolocation – the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object such as a mobile phone or computer terminal – can be blamed for break-ins and Google Street View is fast-becoming a sneaky tool used in planning burglaries,” the company statement explains.

“Most people provide a wealth of personal details, such as their workplace location, people with whom they have relationships, their vacation timing and their address, and that can be putting them at risk,” Allstate Canada adds.

Infographic - The Selfie Effect: Are Your Vacation Pictures Putting You at Risk? (CNW Group/Allstate Insurance Company of Canada)

Infographic – The Selfie Effect: Are Your Vacation Pictures Putting You at Risk? (CNW Group/Allstate Insurance Company of Canada)

The survey found that 60% of male respondents and 51% of female respondents do not always deactivate their geolocation on their mobile device (smart phones or tablets) while travelling.

“Travelers may be excited to post a countdown leading up to a trip or getaway or that they are en route or have arrived at their destination, but they need to be mindful of what, when and how they share online,” social media and travel expert Francisco Randez says in the company statement.

“Although it can be so much fun to share our travel experiences with others, oversharing is a trend that can potentially put the safety of your home at risk,” adds Allstate agency manager Patrizia D’Ignazio, instead advising people to think twice before announcing travel plans in advance or during vacation.

By informing whereabouts via the Internet, not only it is known when a person is away, but any home security safety measures that have been taken in response (such as stopping deliveries temporarily or installing an automated lighting system) could be wasted.

“When making travel plans, remembering to lock the front door and turn on the alarm system – if you have one – is one thing, but oversharing on your social media pages without the necessary precautions is to be avoided,” Randez emphasizes.

Allstate Canada notes that information about home security measures, as well as potential risks, is something that should be shared among all members of the family.

Tips to be careful on social media include the following:

  • be aware of use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks;
  • check the privacy and security settings of social media accounts, and use them to determine who has access to personal information;
  • avoid posting photos with geotagging (disable geotagging functions and remove geotags on your older pictures using photo editing software); and
  • consider saving photos for posting upon returning home instead of throughout the trip.