Crooks Using Social Media to Rip-off New Jerseyans
A new report by the British Insurance firm Legal & General finds criminals are scanning social media sites like Facebook – to find information about homes they can break into.
The crooks look for information that’s posted by people who let their friends know they’re going away on vacation or business.
County College of Morris Criminology professor Nick Irons – a former police Sgt.- says the bad guys will methodically review sites – “they can gain access to the people that are sharing information about themselves – on twitter, facebook, myspace, and all the rest of them that are out there – and they gather that information and use it to their advantage…if you share that information – post it – people have an open invitation to know that you’re not at home, and they can come over and hit the place.”
He says “it’s not much different than several years ago when you would hold a wedding, and you would announce that wedding in the newspaper as to when it was going to take place and where it was going to take place, people would see that in the paper ,and that would be the house that they would hit.”
The professor adds “put yourself in the shoes of the burglar- the criminal – or the person who wants to steal your identity – and if you’re making it easier for them, you’re actually a major part of the problem…if you don’t want someone breaking in your home – if you don’t want somebody stealing your identity – then don’t put that stuff out there for people to find…I don’t go on facebook, I don’t go on twitter- myspace – I don’t have any linkage with any of those places, because I don’t want that kind of information out there.”
He also points out crooks don’t even have to physically check out the home they’re planning on breaking into – since all they need to do is type in the address and Google Street View will show them the neighborhood.
“I’ve done it on my own place” says professor Irons, “and there it is- it’s right there- my neighbor’s house- and you can zero right in on it -just like that you’re sitting in a plane with a telescope… people who sound a warning about putting this information online are kind of looked upon as being “old fogies” – you’re not with it today – but I think we are with it – we want to protect our families, we want to protect ourselves.”