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Is social media putting you and your family at risk?

In today’s increasingly connected world, social media is becoming a window into our lives. But, are you always aware of who’s looking in?

Your child, friend or family member poses for a selfie with their brand-new Rolex, before proudly posting the photo on social media. But not everyone looking at the snap is a friend or even known to the person in the picture.

The importance of being protective of privacy was well-illustrated in 2017 when reality TV star Kim Kardashian fell victim to armed robbery. The thieves tracked her location using social media and press updates, before muscling their way into her hotel room and stealing approximately £7.8 million in cash and jewels.

But how does social media make me vulnerable?

Criminals can use social media geo-tagging, landmarks and research into your typical behaviour or schedule. Even if your profile is private, your device or social media account may store GPS coordinates as metadata and this information could be hacked and used to alert criminals to your travel location and patterns.

Most people don’t realise how much useful information they share on their social media profiles. Off-hand comments or seemingly-safe photos can all help a savvy kidnapper or extortionist build up a picture of your location, by telling them of your favourite restaurant, your workplace and even what your house or car looks like.

Money at the heart

Criminals will research their victim, both online and in real life, for displays of wealth that they can exploit. They may even go as far as using databases, such as Prospecting for Gold and the Sunday Times Rich List, to find targets.

Unfortunately, the frequently sharing of images of high-value items, luxurious homes or 5-star holidays can also hinder your safety. This is evidenced in the ‘rich kids of Instagram’ trend, whereby young wealthy people like to share photos of five-figure receipts, gold member credit cards and champagne, all of which helps to announce levels of wealth to criminals.

What can be done to prepare?

Be strict on privacy

Ultimately, maintaining a private life is important. Your family should come together to clearly and honestly discuss what information should be kept private, as well as the consequences if it is not.

 Build awareness

From educating yourselves on cybercriminal tactics, to getting travel advice[1], it’s important to build awareness so your family can best minimise their risk.

 Sensible usage

The chances are no one will want to shut down their social media accounts entirely, so here are some ideas that should help mitigate some of the risks:

  • Turn off geotagging functions on your device and profile
  • Make profiles and posts as private and secure
  • Caution against overly-extravagant or unnecessary displays of wealth
  • Never disclose bank account information or payment card details
  • Ask them to be mindful of the little details that can be given away by accident, such as a house number, home security system or car number plate

  For more help on how to protect your wealth visit HSBC Private Banking:


[1] https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Check out our Social Savvy article for top tips on keeping your kids safe on social media from cyber-bullying to privacy settings

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