New research says that people who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are more prone to getting robbed, as burglars might be stealing their personal details from such websites.
The research said that these sites could face higher insurance premiums because burglars may be using them to find out their personal details.
AdvertisementAccording to insurers Legal and General, millions of users post details about their home, as well as holiday plans, acting as an invitation to the burglars.
The report, called The Digital Criminal, commissioned by Legal and General, and prepared by Michael Fraser, the star of BBC's Beat The Burglar, was recently launched.
It polled 2,000 social network users and found that almost two fifths had posted details of their holiday plans, with nearly two thirds of 16-24 year-olds doing so.
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that burglars are using social networks to identify likely targets," the Telegraph quoted Fraser, a reformed thief, as saying.
"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 neyworking 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," he added.
Graham Cluley, from web security firm Sophos, said it was "staggering" what information people were putting online.
"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," he said. "People are boasting about how they are having a fantastic time on a beach in Mexico on a webpage 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," he said.
Also, they found that almost fifty percent users were unconcerned about social networking security.
In an experiment, 100 friend requests were issued to random stranger. Nine out of 10 Twitter users accepted the stranger as a friend, with more than one in 10 Facebook users.
However, privacy groups have said that insurance companies will simply use social networking sites to increase premiums.
Malcolm Cooper, director of pricing and underwriting at Legal and General, said: "It's a challenging one for the insurance industry. Just because someone is burgled, you can't prove that it's down to details posted on Facebook. It could be that we start asking how many youngsters are in the home for example."