Should Facebook and Twitter Users Pay Higher Insurance Premiums?

Does being a member of a social networking website such as Facebook or Twitter give crooks personal information about you that could increase the likelihood of you being robbed?

If the answer is "Yes," should such participants be required to pay higher insurance premiums?

This concept is being considered by Great Britain as reported by that nation's Daily Mail Thursday (h/t William Ricci):

Users of social networking websites could face higher insurance premiums because burglars are using them to 'shop' for victims' personal details.

Experts from leading insurer Legal & General warn that parents could eventually see their premiums rise even if only their children are members of popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Many of the millions of users of these sites post details about their home, whereabouts and holiday plans on them - effectively an invitation to a burglar.

Scary stuff, folks:

The warning comes in the wake of a report called The Digital Criminal, commissioned by Legal & General and prepared by reformed thief Michael Fraser, star of the BBC's Beat The Burglar series.

Mr Fraser said: 'There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that burglars are using social networks to identify likely targets.

'They gain confidence by learning more about them, what they are likely to own and when they are likely to be out of the house.

'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.'

Think about the following before your next Facebook status or tweet:

A burglar might look out for alarms or security lighting on any pictures of the home, as well as any photos of pet dogs who might be guarding it. [...]

Graham Cluley of web security firm Sophos said: 'It is staggering what people are putting on the web.

'Our research shows that 41 per cent of people are divulging personal and private information to complete strangers on Facebook, such as their date of birth, where they worked, where they lived and what they were doing.

People are boasting about how they are having a fantastic time on a beach in Mexico on a web page that has their home address.

'Criminals who put together the jigsaw can use it for identity theft or burglary. It is just as dangerous as leaving your windows or doors open at home.'

As you might imagine, kids are the worst offenders of sharing too much information at such websites.

With this in mind, as Phil Esterhaus used to say at the end of every roll call on the fabulous television series "Hill Street Blues," let's be careful out there. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.