Belfast Telegraph

Consumer: How a harmless tweet can spell disaster if thieves are on lookout

By Claire McNeilly

Florida is just FAB! Myself, Brian and the kids having simply the best time. Not a cloud in the sky – and we're here for two weeks'. Yippee! You've just got away on a dream family holiday, you're excited and you want everyone to know it.

What could be easier than condensing that excitement into 140 characters on Twitter? Well, here's another 140-character sentence: "Dear burglars, I've gone away for a couple of weeks with my family, so feel free to ransack my house and remove all my prized possessions".

You wouldn't ever tweet that, but you might as well have done. After all, you've just told potential burglars where you are and how long you'll be away for. It's the modern-day equivalent of forgetting to cancel the milk or newspapers; an open invitation to thieves.

Former Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan had a terrifying experience recently when armed raiders, alerted by her Twitter account that she was "home alone", burst into her house and stole her jewellery.

Now it has emerged that posting your whereabouts on the microblogging site could invalidate your insurance. Brokers have warned that insurers could regard this as broadcasting an open invitation to burglars.

If you are unlucky enough to be a victim of crime, yet had inadvertently done something that prompted that crime, your claim could be rejected.

"People should always avoid putting detailed information about your whereabouts on Twitter. You run the risk of being a target for thieves," said Graeme Trudgill, from the British Insurance Brokers Association.

The Financial Ombudsman, meanwhile, said it would examine any such cases brought to its attention.

It's worth noting that any upgrade to a TV or other technology should be declared to your insurer as they could refuse to replace the newer, costlier model if there is a break-in or accident.

It's tedious, but householders should always check the small print of their contents insurance. You may feel the installation of an alarm, safe or window locks will satisfy insurers in the event of a claim – but choose the wrong type and you could be turned down.

Maybe you should tweet that!


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