Social media users warned of insurance hikes

Social media users warned of insurance hikes

People who use social media tools that can reveal their location, such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz, could face hikes in home insurance premiums, according to price comparison site Confused.com.

The potential dangers associated with revealing locations through social networking sites was highlighted this week with the launch of PleaseRobMe.

The Dutch site pulls together information from Twitter and FoureSquare - a social game based on players' geo-location - to provide a stream of messages from people leaving their houses.

The creators argue that by broadcasting to the world where they are, people are revealing to burglars that they are definitely not in their homes. "On one end we're leaving lights on when we're going on a holiday, and on the other we're telling everybody on the Internet we're not home," says the site.

The site has come in for criticism, accused of irresponsibility by the Privacy International campaign group but its founders say they are trying to raise awareness of a problem and point out that all of the information published is, of course, freely available to anyone who wants to find it.

With PleaseRobMe hitting the headlines, Darren Black, head, home insurance, Confused.com, says the growth of location-based social networking is likely to have an impact on premiums, with hikes of up to 10% for users.

"Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their information gathering even using Google earth and street view to plan their burglaries with military precision. Insurance providers are starting to take this into account when they are assessing claims and we may in future see insurers declining claims if they believe the customer was negligent," says Black.

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