Social media posts can expose your home to criminals

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The development of social media platforms like Instagram have enabled people to instantaneously show friends and family where they are. People no longer have to wait until the end of a holiday trip to tell their friends and family how wonderful their trip was, where they were, what they eat, people they met and that they were having a wonderful time.

By Donald Tafadzwa Chidoori

As much as it is amazing to share your holiday experiences with family and friends you will also be exposing yourself to criminals. Posting these pictures is simple as telling everyone that you have left your home unoccupied therefore exposing yourself to the risk of burglary. Some burglary claims are being rejected for this very reason.

Unoccupied homes pose a lot of risks. For example, these homes are more likely to be targeted by criminals and vandals. If there is a fire or a tap left open and a fire or flooding caused occurs and there is no one to limit the damage, claims payouts can be denied or reduced.

As such the smallest oversight on your part like a hint that your house in not occupied can result in your claim being denied or getting a reduced payout. Standard insurance policies don’t cover homes that have been left unoccupied for a certain number of days, which can pose difficulties if you are on a holiday with your family and you have left your house unoccupied.

If your home is going to be left unoccupied for any length of time, it’s important you have the right level of home insurance in place. Specialised unoccupied home insurance can be made use of in such instances. However, this type of insurance can be very expensive and most people cannot afford it.

Exclusions: Any insurance cover, be it motor insurance, health insurance will have exclusions. When buying home insurance always read exclusions carefully. Burglary due to exposing your property at risk because your house will be unoccupied is one common exclusion.

As such it is very important to be of the safe side when using social media, to protect your property, yourself and your family. Internet trolls and criminals are using social media to gather personal information which they use to commit cyber enabled burglaries and other crimes like fraud and even kidnappings.

It is no secret that every year thousands of people are kidnapped during a holiday trip. While such cases are not popular in Zimbabwe it is always safe to be on the safe side. On top of that if only a few Zimbabweans (30%) have basic, how many can afford insurance to pay for kidnap and ransom insurance cover.

Without your personal information criminals cannot commit a burglary or a kidnapping, as such before a person decides to share anything with friends and family on public forums like Facebook, one should always ask themselves, ‘who else will have access to my personal information?’

Thefts must be reported to the police as soon as they occur, for you to obtain a crime number that you will use to make a claim. If a burglary occurs while you are away and there is no one at your house to report the crime within the prescribed contractual cover agreement time this could result in claim rejection.

Get Safe Social Media Tips:

  • Check your privacy settings: Before you post anything on social media make sure that the specific people you want to see the post are the ones you are sending to. However you can never be sure of who will share your post to whom.
  • Over sharing: People have the habit of sharing each and every bit of information from what they ate where, with whom and even some share their Itinerary, this information can be used by criminals to commit a number of crimes, like burglary.  Don’t post how long you will be away from home on your social media posts.
  • To share or not to share:  It very easy to click post on social media, but deleting and controlling a post after clicking the click button is near to impossible. Your insurer might see a post that you have been on a holiday and left your house unoccupied. So Think before you click on post or send.
  • Geolocation: Also turnoff geolocation on your posts so that people will not know where you are and what time it is. Keep your location unknown be a Ghost. Do not let anyone know where exactly you are and for how long

Social media has increasingly become an instrument of choice for most burglars. This article is not meant to frighten people from using social media but a way to encourage them to use social media in a safe and enjoyable manner.  And reduce the risk of their burglary claims being totally rejected or getting a reduced payout.

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