Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are among the fastest-growing segments of the Internet. More people are turning to them. They're a wonderful way to stay connected with family and friends. Unfortunately, there's a dark side to even the most valuable tool.

Following are some of the ways social media websites can increase the risk for your family, business and even insurance coverage:

Increase Crime: Real-time broadcasting of your location makes it easy for criminals to know when you are away from a home or business and even some of the possessions that may be available. Be cautious when sending messages and avoid real-time feeds, especially if you don't have a very strong security system in place.

Void Claims: Several high-profile cases have recently gone to court in response to the growing concerns over insurance fraud. Online communications are increasingly subject to scrutiny so watch what you say. Even the photographs you take could be misconstrued or taken out of context. For example, someone with an active injury claim might be on shaky ground when confronted with photographs showing a big night out on the town.  

Reputation Matters: Everyone from prospective employers to landlords are making a habit of checking social media sites in addition to standard reference sources. If you claim to be a non-smoker, but show photos of a house filled with smoking relatives, don't be surprised to find an offer rescinded.
Posted 5:13 PM

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