Beware of the Facecrook, Warns Swinton Insurance

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A new generation of criminals are scouring social networking sites for empty homes to burgle, according to Swinton the UK's largest high street home insurance retailer.

Many social network users reveal personal information such as age, telephone number and address to approximately 59 million people worldwide and around seven million in the UK. When combined with 'status' updates that describe users as "on holiday" or "on a day out" this provides an open invitation to opportunistic burglars.

According the Home Office in 2008 there was a 4% rise in the number of UK burglaries in 2008, the largest rise in seven years and young people (16-24 yrs old) are twice as likely to be burgled as any other age group.

Steve Chelton, insurer development manager at Swinton home insurance, said: "Social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo or My Space are great for connecting people with friends, family and colleagues. But people are unaware of the potential risks associated with revealing personal information and updating their online status.

"We would advise all users not to include your address or telephone number on your profile and only ever accept online friends that you know and trust. Think carefully before updating a status, especially if going on holiday to avoid advertising to thieves that a home is empty and easily accessible. Also, keep profiles private so that only certified 'friends' can view it and status updates."

Swinton advises social network users to:

  •     Restrict all personal information without stating your exact address.
  •     Only accept people as a friend that you know or can trust.
  •     Set your profile to 'private' so that people who are not your friend cannot see your personal information.
  •     Never update your online status to tell people you are going away from your home.

*Figures obtained from the Home Office

For more information contact Michael Travers or Anoushka Foster at Manchester PR agency SKV Communications on 0161 838 7770.

About Swinton

  •     With 580 branches nationwide Swinton is the UK's largest high street insurance retailer
  •     Unlike many other companies in the financial services industry, Swinton is committed to keeping its branches open for business, and part of the community
  •     Swinton provides a one-stop-shop for the insurance and related needs of its clients, offering home, car, caravan, business, holiday, motorbike and even classic car insurance
  •     With a dedicated team of advisors on hand at every branch to search a panel of insurers to offer quality cover at competitive rates

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Anoushka Foster
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