Over a third of social networking website users put themselves at risk of burglary

October 22, 2010

Over a third* of UK adults are regularly using social networking sites to update people on their actions and whereabouts, without consideration of the risks associated – according to research released today (October 22) by The Co-operative Insurance.

  • 36% update on their actions and whereabouts on social networking websites
  • 66% use social networking websites to ‘snoop’ on others
  • Nearly a fifth (18%) of users profiles are available for all to see

Over a third* of UK adults are regularly using social networking sites to update people on their actions and whereabouts, without consideration of the risks associated – according to research released today (October 22) by The Co-operative Insurance.

70 per cent of adults in the UK are using social networking websites at the moment. Of these, 36% use websites such as Facebook and Twitter actively to make people aware of a whole range of personal information including where they are, what they are doing, and how far future events such as holidays (35%) are.

The amount of information that users of social networking websites admit to freely divulging to their ‘friends’ such as photographs of themselves (66%), date of birth (42% ), marital status (60%) and family details (12%) in isolation may seem fairly harmless however together and in the wrong hands may lead to a variety of problems.

By divulging so much personal information people are not only risking identity fraud, they are also increasing the chance of personal attack by updating on their whereabouts and the burglary of their home and theft of personal possessions, such as their vehicle, by openly updating about where they will be at a certain point in time. Almost two thirds (66%) of people admit to using social networking websites to find out what others are doing.

The Co-operative Insurance's Safe Social Networking Top Tips
1 Only accept friend requests from people you know
2 Keep personal information to a minimum i.e. do not make your DOB or address details available
3 Lock your profile so that only people you know can see your pages
4 Don't countdown to events/holidays/days out – this clearly shows when you won’t be around
5 Common sense is key - be cautious and don't upload images of expensive/desireable items you may own i.e. jewellery/cars


52 per cent of social networking adults claim to know their ‘friends’ on the websites however don’t see them regularly whilst one fifth (21%) admit that whilst they know most, many are ’friends of friends’. This is particularly worrying as 23 % of users have uploaded images of their home and car onto these websites whilst 14% have gone that step further and have made their address details freely available.

This is despite almost two thirds (63%) of UK adults believing that they would not be able to make a claim on their home insurance, due to a burglary, if they had clearly documented their movements on social networking websites.

David Neave, Director of General Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: “Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are fantastic ways of linking up with friends, old and new and sharing news amongst other things however these websites need to be used with caution.
“A common sense approach when using social networking websites is key. You have to ask yourself ‘would I be happy to divulge this information normally?’ If not, you shouldn’t make people aware of it online.
“Whilst it may seem harmless to countdown to an event such as a holiday, if an opportunist person stumbles across information, which clearly tells them when your house is not going to be occupied, you are vastly increasing the chance that your house will be burgled.
“Unfortunately, whilst the majority of people use these websites as they are intended, there is a minority group which will be using them for their own illegal gains and therefore it is very important to be vigilant and err on the side of caution when updating statuses.”

*Research conducted by 72 point questioning 3.000 respondents 


For further information please contact

Jenna Moss / Catherine Laycock
The Co-operative Financial Services Press Office
Tel: 0161 903 3831 / 3833
Email : jenna.moss@cfs.coop / catherine.laycock@cfs.coop
Twitter: @CFSpressteam


Notes to editors:

ISDN facilities are available for broadcast media interviews.


About The Co-operative Financial Services

The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) is part of The Co-operative Group, which is the world’s largest consumer co-operative with around five million members, over £14 billion turnover, and core business interests in financial services, food, travel, pharmacy and funeral care. The Co-operative Group has over 5,000 retail trading outlets.

Following the merger with Britannia Building Society on 1 August 2009 CFS is one of the largest and well diversified mutual businesses operating in both retail and corporate markets.

As part of The Co-operative Group, the new business is characterised by its unique ethical and member reward policies and very high levels of customer advocacy.

The combined business has £70 billion in assets, 12,000 staff and nine million customers. It has over 300 high street branches, 20 corporate banking centres and a major presence in Manchester, London, Leek, Plymouth, Skelmersdale and Stockport.

It is the only mutual organisation that enables its members to earn financial rewards for the products they hold, as well as giving them the opportunity to have a say in how the business is run.