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Burglars scan social network sites

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Criminals searching social networking sites to find when householders are on holiday could lead to a 10% surge in insurance prices.

Facebook and Twitter are scanned more and more to find when homes are likely to be empty, it has been claimed, so insurers are looking to raise premiums by around 10% to cover claim costs over resultant break-ins. The Association of British Insurers revealed that 40% of social networking site users give their holiday plans away online and a third give weekend break details.

To avoid the problem, the association warned against posting too much information. Its figures show around £4.8 billion was paid out in property-related insurance claims in the UK in 2008, and an average of 10% of householders claim on property or contents insurance each year.

"It is advisable not to put information on a public website that could leave your home or belongings vulnerable, such as letting lots of people know when you are going to be away on holiday," a spokesman said.

"What is important is that you take reasonable steps to make sure your property is secure and that you ­comply with any minimum security requirements that may be in your insurance policy."

© Press Association 2010