Members of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace could be slugged with higher home insurance premiums after warnings they are more likely to be targeted by burglars.
A report issued by one of Britain's biggest insurance companies, Legal & General, found that robbers are using social networking websites to obtain person information that could help identify targets for break-ins.
Legal & General may now include membership of a social networking site as part of their standard questioning, after the poll of 2000 social network users found nearly four in ten had made updates about holiday plans and nearly half were unworried about security
Author of the report, Michael Fraser, who told the Daily Mail he was a former thief, said he had absolutely no doubt in his mind that burglars were using social networks to identify likely targets.
"They gain confidence by learning more about [likely targets], what they are likely to own and when they are likely to out of the house," he said.
"I call it 'internet shopping for burglars'. It is incredibly easy to use social networking sites to target people, and then scope out more information on their actual home using other internet sites like Google Street View, all from the comfort of the sofa."
Back in Australia, insurance companies Allianz Australia and NRMA Insurance said that criminal trend was not yet an issue here.
Spokesman for Allianz Australia Nicholas Scofield told news.com.au that there was no evidence in Australia to suggest people who use social networking sites are at a higher insurance risk.
NRMA Insurance told news.com.au that the use of social networking sites would not factor in pricing for its home insurance policies.