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Take Caution When Posting Your Holiday Plans & Photos

Be cautious when sharing holiday plans online.

This little reminder is posted for you each Holiday Season!

At this time of year, many folks make plans to go away for the Holidays or are using up vacation time which means they will not be as available. As a result, we don’t answer emails as quickly (or at all), and onliners on our social accounts will notice our absence.

So, we engage our vacation/away messages to keep folks aware of our status. In addition, we post our upcoming plans with excitement and glee on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

We announce we will be out of town, for how long, where we are going, etc.

We’re leaving for the airport for our two week visit with family on the east coast! Excited!

The nefarious individuals see, “There’s a house/condo/apartment that won’t have anyone home for two weeks!”

Or this year, sadly, messages and posts reflecting loneliness.

This year I’m staying home alone. Wishing for some company…..

Be careful what you ask for. No matter how careful you are about posting physical location details, some know how to find out. Unfortunately, most folks don’t know how easy it is — and how much information about you is publicly available.

Less is more…

Think about it… Social sites are, for the most part, accessible by anyone. So it is natural to want to let everyone who knows you or is a “friend” see what you are up to.

However, you may inadvertently let those less than honorable (a.k.a. thieves and thugs) know that your home will be available for them to pay a visit. Or that you’ll be alone.

Are all your “friends” actual friends?

This is a good time of the year to check your social account privacy settings. Ensure you are locked down to show detailed personal updates only to those whose friend requests you’ve accepted.

And even then, are all those “friends” indeed those you would trust with your physical location or personal status? Maybe consider unfriending those with who you are not actively engaged. You cannot know for sure if those you do not know are trustworthy.

Why expose yourself to strangers just for a high friend count? Think quality over quantity.

Don’t believe me?

Search for your name on Google or any of the white-page websites. You will probably be surprised to find how much information about you is publicly available, including the ability to “street view” your home on Google.

This is why when posting your status to your social networks or including details in your away messages, you should take extra care. Do not provide specifics or actual dates.

Talk in generalities when it comes to your Holiday schedule. For example, refrain from providing To and From dates that indicate when your home may not be occupied.

Here are examples you can use right now for your voicemail, away messages, and social media updates:

  • FOR WORK: I’ll be less available during the Holidays. Please contact my assistant, John Doe, @ 555-1212 if you need immediate assistance.
  • FOR PERSONAL: I will not be online as much as usual during the upcoming Holidays, so don’t be concerned if I don’t respond immediately. Too many fun things to do!

You get the idea. Simply state you will not be checking email as regularly during the Holidays and will catch up shortly. Never provide specific dates and time frames.

Don’t Post Photos in Realtime

Also, be wary of posting photos that show you are away from home. That’s as good as posting “empty house available” signs in your yard. Instead, share your photos when you return.

Let those truly personal contacts and real friends know any details via direct email or a phone conversation. And if you see friends posting too many details about their plans, offer them a word of caution too.

By not including dates and times, you are being prudent. However, in the process, you will be reflecting the necessary caution to protect yourself from those with ulterior motives or folks you do not know very well. Better safe than sorry, right?

Get the word out...