Criminals Using Social Networks To Target People

Internet shopping for burglars

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[ Social Media]

Users of social networks are giving away vital information about themselves and their whereabouts that is being used by criminals to create a list of targets, according to a new report by the British-based insurance firm Legal & General.

The report "The Digital Criminal," found 38 percent of users of sites such as Facebook and Twitter have posted status updates detailing their vacation plans and 33 percent have posted status updates saying they are away for a weekend.

Changes to status updates and posts when going away

In addition, 23 percent of social media users have discussed vacation plans "wall-to-wall" outside the privacy of their own page and 17 percent have reported seeing people’s residential addresses posted on pages that can be seen by strangers.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that burglars are using social networks to develop relationships with people to identify likely targets," said Michael Fraser, reformed burglar and star of the BBC’s "Beat the Burglar" series.

Concerns about the security and privacy of various media sites

"I call it ‘internet shopping for burglars’. It is incredibly easy to use social networking sites to target people, and then scope out more information on their actual home using other internet sites like Google Street View, all from the comfort of the sofa."

Other findings include:

  • Nearly half, 48% of respondents have no worries about the security or privacy of social networking sites.
  • Of all social networking sites, Facebook creates the most concern with 46% of respondents feeling that there are some security and privacy risks.
  • The younger you are, the more likely you are to give information away concerning your whereabouts, with nearly two-thirds, 64% of 16-24 year olds sharing their holiday plans – which could be a cause for concern for parents.
  • 34% of respondents have seen somebody else’s phone number posted on their social networking profile.
  • Nearly one in ten, 9% of respondents have included their own phone number and 5% have included their address in the personal information section of social networking sites visible to friends.
  • Some people are sharing mobile numbers and addresses directly with strangers: 6% have written their phone number and 3% have written their address "wall-to-wall" or on pages open to those who are not accepted contacts.  
  • Men are more blas about personal information – 13% have included their mobile number on their profile compared with just 7% of women and 9% of men have included their address compared with just 4% of women.
  • 70% of users think that social media sites are a great place to share photos of their cool new purchases and presents.
Criminals Using Social Networks To Target People
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  • Guest

    Where’s the information backing up the headline? It’s all based on one assumption:

    “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that burglars are using social networks to develop relationships with people to identify likely targets,” said Michael Fraser, reformed burglar and star of the BBC’s “Beat the Burglar” series.

    That’s not evidence that this is even occurring. Have you considered that most profiles on Facebook are protected to show only status updates to friends? It’s awfully hard to find someone’s location on Twitter unless they tweet from their iPhone – from their house.

    I also question how many house burglars are adept at tracking people through social media? You have a better chance at getting hit by a bus.

  • http://www.bikeshopcastlehill.com.au Home Solar Power Systems

    Great report as well as a shocking report! I do agree that social networking sites are being used by the criminals to target people. Now it’s time for the users to think over.

  • http://www.silver-artz.co.uk Lesley

    Why should a burglar go to all the trouble of trawling social networking sites trying to find personal details, then trawling google street maps etc to find a potential target?

    Why because there is absolutely no need for him to do it. How much easier is it for him to just walk down a street in a wealthy area and wait around for a while till the owners to go out for the day or night. Isn’t is what they have always done fairly successfully so why change?

    Surely this is the easier option. I think the risk of being robbed by a social network junky is fairly low.

  • http://thepayperclickblogger.blogspot.com Steve

    A professional thief wants an easy target.

    Especially if that target has a lot of valuables and cash.

    So if say a wealthy millionaire says he is going out of the country on business, why wouldn’t a thief stake out his house instead of waiting for the right moment of another high profile target?

    Or how about a person that tweets about everything?

    They’re leaving the house to run errands, be back in a few hours or so….then they tweet when they’re on their way home…..

    I mean it couldn’t be more convenient unless they had no alarm and at least one back door was unlocked, or they just moved in so everything is still in boxes and well labeled. Like the valuables, marked “valuables” in big letters.

    Even worse, what if crimes were eventually linked to twitter as a form of coded communication?

    Like an inside man at a bank tweets to the robbers when he’s going to lunch so the back door will be open for their attempt to rob the bank?

  • Palazzo

    Kindly refer to the original document. Not that ambiguous.


    All part of our media-fueled narcissism epidemic.

    People decry the government-sponsored erosion of privacy whilst willingly expounding ‘all about ME’.

    Interesting world.

    • Guest

      soooooo right, my friend

  • http://www.work-at-home-online.com/ Maqsood

    As social media is vastly used by the individuals as well as by the small business owners/promoters. Things become verse when they get the criminals interaction. May be in future the use of social media become less popular.

  • http://www.wiiconverter.com/ Wii Video Converter

    We should notice not to publish our own private vacation.

  • Guest

    I was targeted by a sales scam for Get Fit Fitness in Carrollwood when I posted a personal ad on Match.com. I put “a few pounds overweight” on my profile in an attempt to be honest. In less than 24 hours I was contacted by a guy who was here in Tampa to “help his sister” get through depression over a bad divorce where her husband had a child with another woman…then she had gained a lot of weight and spiraled into a grave depression. He found her a personal trainer in Tampa that was a miracle worker… he said he was taking her there NOW, and he would have the guy contact me. Said his name was “Chance” This guy’s was a Gorilla Salesman…GOOD! Set an appointment in an hour and a half so I didn’t have much time to think. After all…I did want to lose weight. He was SUPER EXPENSIVE. Wanted me to bring my checkbook. No credit cards. He wanted $3700 for 4 months. Said he would work with me though. It took me a bit but then I woke up and realized that I was the near-victim of this internet fraud crime!!! BEWARE! I found a regular GET FIT franchise only charges $79 a month. Drove by to see his brand new Mercedes convertible sitting out front. BOY! Was I angry! He’s scammed a lot of women, I’m sure (my opinion) that don’t even know they were scammed. This comment is purely my opinion only and my experience!

  • http://www.myfacefile.com Rob Wilcox

    I have to say I’m not all that surprised with the findings in the study, but this serves as a good reminder to all of us that use social media sites to be careful about what information we post. Thanks for the information.

  • http://www.TheCourierShop.co.uk Sarah Arrow

    Hmm, all websites now have peoples addresses on them for legal reasons, then people add the RSS feed of their twitter updates to their websites – yep, easy picking.
    Unfortunately, the human factor such as neighbours, alarms, big bitey dogs all have to be taken into account.
    I still think many burglars will stick to their tried and tested methods rather than using social networks, after all there are many people (be prepared to be shocked) that dont have a twitter, facebook or social networking account…


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