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Sunday May 3rd, 2015 3:59PM

When Facebook is an 'open door' for thieves

By Ken Stanford Reporter
GAINESVILLE - Do you or any of your social media friends post information on Facebook or elsewhere while on vacation, out to dinner or even, say, at the doctor's office or, maybe, WalMart?

You may not have thought about this, but such postings could be an open invitation for burglars to visit your home while you are away.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia warns this is the "dark side of social media updates."

The BBB says one of the biggest mistakes travelers can make is to alert the world to the fact they are not in town by updating or posting on social media sites in "real time." Updates and tagged posts on sites like Facebook and Four Square can alert criminals to your exact location, leaving your home and personal belongings vulnerable, according to spokeswoman Dottie Callina.

Callina says it's best to keep your travel plans offline until you return from your vacation. If you must update, review your privacy settings before you leave. Change settings so that posts don't identify where you are, and don't be too specific with your updates.

Callina says even if you set your privacy settings to prevent wholesale distribution of any postings, there's no guarantee a friend or family member, whose Facebook page is not as secure as yours, won't repost the information for the whole world to see.

She adds there a documented cases where burglars and other thieves "trolled" Facebook and other social media sites and then stole from people who were away from home and had posted that information.
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