Confused.com, the widely used household comparison website recently issued a warning to users of social networking sites saying that they could eventually pay more for their house insurance.
Sound crazy? Well maybe it isn’t just a publicity stunt…You may have heard recently of the introduction of Facebook Places. This new feature for users of the iPhone means when you post an update it also posts exactly where you are at that time. This has been made possible due to the inclusion of GPS on pretty much all modern phones these days.
What happens is, the application queries the GPS, gets the coordinates and zaps them up to Facebook when you use it. These coordinates get turned into an actual location and suddenly everyone knows that you’re posting from the chip shop in Clapham High Street. “What’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. Well, if you’re in the chip shop then you’re not at home.
Social media means we are now broadcasting much more information than we ever were before and it’s just out there in the open. If you’ve been pretty tight with your Facebook Privacy settings then you’re safer than most, but my experience thus far has been most people are not privacy aware and are sending their notifications all over the Internet. And now they can include exactly where they are.
Of course, people have been flouting this for ages by posting everything about their holiday, their business trip or even the jaunt to the shops, and each time you do, you’re telling everyone that your house is empty.
Now even though the chances are small that you could be targeted by a savvy burglar, the risk is still there and Insurance companies could see this as you not taking precautions over security on your property.
In extreme cases they could refuse to pay out but it’s more likely that as more and more people use these systems and more thieves take advantage, our premiums will go up.
It’s no good keep the lights on, having automatically drawing curtains and cancelling the papers if you’re then going to tell the world you’re sunning it up on the Costa Del Sol.
And with more and more ‘location aware’ technology making its way into our pockets, it’s actually becoming harder for us to be secretive about our location.
So how can I protect myself?
You need to take precautions and they’re easy.
- DO NOT tell people where you are on holiday. Obvious, isn’t it? However, a friend of mine recently told everyone about their holiday in Canada, blow-by-blow, picture-by-picture.
- Make sure your privacy settings on whichever site you use block your current location
- Switch off location-based services on any mobile phone apps you use
It’s common sense, really. And it could mean your insurance premiums stay down.