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Social media can increase robbery risk

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The 2016 Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report revealed that 67% of South Africans feel that it is getting more difficult to control their personal information due to smartphones and the internet. The popularity of social media platforms are growing rapidly in South Africa, but many might not realise that they are exposing themselves as potential targets for crime through their social media posts.
Davie Loots, CEO of MUA Insurance Acceptances, explains that by disclosing personal information, individuals place themselves at an increased risk of theft, as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the types of technologies that they employ to plan a burglary. “Social media sites and information posted to these platforms by users can aid criminals in planning their crimes.”
He says that when a person shares their daily activities, location and purchases on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other social media portals, they are unknowingly providing robbers with a ‘social media road map’ and summary of their belongings and constant whereabouts.
“Google Street View is another example of a website that can make consumers susceptible to theft, as it provides detailed imaging of streets and the exterior of homes. The website allows anyone to view the security features of a home, such as spikes, electric fencing, walls and the entire perimeter of a property,” he says.
Loots points to a recent high profile case where social media could have possibly led to a robbery. “Kim Kardashian was held at gunpoint in her appointment in Paris in early October where robbers stole her 20-carat engagement ring and a case of jewelry to the value of R163 million. With over 50 million people following her whereabouts on Twitter alone, this celebrity could easily have been targeted by the robbers.”
This celebrity’s wealth is displayed in numerous social media posts on a daily basis and resultantly millions of people (including thieves) knows that she owns many expensive possessions, he says.
“Consumers should be careful about the information they provide on social networks as these posts can also increase their risk of insurance claim rejections. For example, if a client is involved in a motor accident and tells their insurance provider that they were at home drinking soft drinks, but their social media images on Facebook indicates something on the contrary, the insurer can use this information and possibly reject the claim.”
When insurance premiums are calculated they are based on a risk assessment of each individual, says Loots. “At the moment, online activity is generally not considered part of an individual’s assessment, however, with new online services launching all the time, more insurers are opting to use a policyholder’s online social media activity when assessing a claim.”
He provides the following tips for people to protect themselves online:
* Make sure all features and applications are password protected on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets.
* Do not post photos of your valuable possessions on social media sites – be careful what you post online.
* Do not use “lazy” online passwords such as 1234.
* Regularly update passwords and never divulge these passwords to anyone else.
* Before posting content to social media, ask yourself, “does this content make me more vulnerable to robbers”.
* Never post your home address or any other personal information, such as home phone numbers on social media platforms.
* Turn off any location-based applications unless it is absolutely necessary.
* Always supply insurers with accurate and truthful information at the time of claim submission.