Checking in on social apps like Swarm is hard to resist, especially when you’re really excited about where you are or a check-in could earn you a reward. But over-zealous check-ins can put you at risk. When you’re out having a good time, or simply commuting to work, the last thing you want to worry about is a bad guy watching your online movements to track the best time to hit your home for a burglary.
Unfortunately, that kind of burglar behavior is real. There are more ways to get yourself into trouble than ever before. However, it is possible to stay active on Swarm without becoming vulnerable. With a few smart actions you can take control of your online information and foil the plans of criminals looking for an easy target.
Don’t Be Lazy About Privacy Settings
Now that Swarm has automatic options that broadcast your check-in status to the public at-large and to the proprietors of establishments you visit, you need to pay extra attention to the app’s settings. In the privacy settings, there are four options each for your contact and location information.
With only nine settings to review, take the time to read each one carefully and un-check the ones that will leave you exposed. Under contact information, the options you probably want to consider turning off are the ones that allow your friends to see your personal information such as phone number and e-mail address.
Under the check-ins settings there are new options to consider deactivating. The first is one that includes you in a public list of people who are checked in at a restaurant or other venue. This means that the gentleman across the bar will get an alert when you check in to the bar and those alerts now include your full first and last name.
The second option to note, under check-in settings, is one that allows your friends check you in. While this can be fun and convenient, it can put also you at risk without you being aware. It’s best to turn this feature off and have full control of when and where you check-in.
Don’t Go Check-in Crazy
The premise of Swarm can be fun, and because recommendations and rewards are based on your actions and where you go, the urge to check-in all the time is compelling. But think before you check-in. Never check-in when you’re at home or visiting a friend’s house. This is nothing more than an alert to your exact location, and sets a baseline for the bad guys to watch. Once they know where your home is, all they have to do is wait until you check-in somewhere else to strike.
It’s also dangerous to check-in on the train during your morning commute. If someone is watching your movements, this lets them know your routine. It tells them when you regularly leave in the morning and approximately how long your house stands empty during the day. If you have children who come home after school and are in the house alone for a couple hours before you return, this becomes even more risky.
Ultimately, it isn’t Swarm that makes you a target for burglars; it’s irresponsible use of Swarm. The good news is you can take control of your online behavior and make sure you’re not doing anything to make you or your home vulnerable. In addition to adjusting your check-in habits, you can fully protect your home with a monitored home security system in case internet trolls piece together enough information to identify an opportune time to target your home.
Written by Clair Jones
Clair Jones is a journalist, marketer and tech junkie who loves to write about technology business trends, digital commerce, career tips and office politics from the perspective of a millennial female. Learn more