In Tips & Advice

Plus 2 Holiday House Hunting Must-Dos

No one knows better how to guard a home against potential holiday crime than energetic, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister of Home Alone. Lucky for Kevin, he didn’t have to manage holiday online prowlers while simultaneously booby-trapping the house. But what if Kevin had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social apps back in 1990? Being a resourceful, intelligent kid, Kevin may have safeguarded his online presence with crucial profile settings and smart social posts, in an effort to ward off potential holiday thieves.

As you get into the thick of the holiday season, be mindful of your social media activity and account settings. Ask yourself, “What would Kevin post?”

Here are five social media holiday safety tips that we think Kevin would follow:

  1. Change Account Settings – The simplest and most effective way to stay aloof online is to update your account settings within all of your social media apps, as well as on all of your electronic devices that you use to post.
    • Turn off your location services on your electronic devices so that no one can see that you’re not posting from home. Don’t worry! You can keep the setting active for GPS mapping purposes, while still making it inactive for other apps.
    • Change your privacy settings within each social media app to limit your posts’ exposure. For example, each time you post to Facebook, you can select for your posts to be viewed by “Friends,” “Public,” “Me Only,” or “Custom.” The “Custom” function allows you to select individual people, like family members, who can see your posts. You can manage these settings post-by-post, or you can update your overall settings for all future posts.
    • Edit what your friends/followers are allowed to post on your timeline or tag you in their own posts. You can choose an “approval” feature to monitor posts and approve only your friends’ posts that don’t reveal your location or specific holiday plans.
    • Postpone accepting friend requests until after the holidays, unless you are expecting one from a family member or close friend. In Instagram, you can utilize the “permission” settings so that you have to approve all followers, as well as any posts that include your username.    
  2. Limit Posting – While we encourage you to unplug through the holidays, you may still find yourself surfing news feeds and wanting to post occasionally about your own holiday cheer.
    • Definitely avoid posting your travel plans! Save the photos and sharing for when you’re back in town.
    • If you’re staying in town, avoid posting about your holiday events/festival plans. It only takes a few minutes to burglarize home. So don’t post that you are heading to a three-hour holiday concert or driving to the annual home-lighting tour.
    • Don’t check-in! You might be really excited about attending a big event, but posting it to the public can wait. Take some great photos and share them online once you’re back home.
    • Be careful what you “like,” “follow,” “retweet,” etc. Newsfeeds often include what our friends are interested in. If you’re suddenly “liking” local holiday festivities or landmarks from another state than your own, people can assume that you’re out of town.
  3. Mind Your Hashtags – If Kevin was posting online 15 years ago, we’re 100 percent sure that he wouldn’t have hash-tagged #homealone. Avoid revealing hashtags, like #homealone, #holidayvacation2015, #melekalikimaka (unless you actually live in Hawaii), #ontheroad, #tograndmothershousewego, #smithfamilyout, #we’llbebacknextyear, #bye[hometown], #missing[hometown], etc.
  4. Keep Photos Private – We understand that sharing adorable holiday photos is a lot of fun. Did you know there are ways to share your photos to a very select group of people? Here are just a few ways:
    • As mentioned above, you can post photos to only a select group by customizing your viewing audience, either post-by-post or by updating your main account settings.
    • You can set up a private group that’s only accessible by select family and friends. For example, Facebook has a “secret group” page tool. In Instagram, you can setup a new permission-based account with a new username, like #smithfamily.
    • Consider using an alternative, photo-sharing app like path.com, where group members must be invited to join. 
  5. Just Unplug – The safest way to protect yourself from potential holiday crime, due to social media exposure, is to simply unplug! Just sit back, have a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a truly wireless holiday break.

PrimeLending wishes you the brightest, happiest and theft-free holiday season! And, if you find yourself house hunting during the holidays, remember these two tips:

  1. Don’t post online that you’re heading out to look at new homes! #outofthehouseforacoupleofhours!
  2. Call a PrimeLending mortgage specialist to learn about your home loan options.

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