Predators could be waiting for your next status update

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Many people keep friends and family updated on what they're doing and where they're at through social networking sites. However, as you type on a social networking site, you could be inviting criminals into your home.

"If I have your name, the year you graduated, and what school you went to, that's all I need," said Lufkin Police Department Detective Otis Almond.  "I can find all kinds of different information just off of public information sites."

"I wouldn't doubt that one bit," said Facebook user Roy Nolan.

Nolan is a Facebook user and not too worried about the access people have to his information.

"I don't really think that anybody could track me down," Nolan said.  "I mean if someone really wanted to find me they could...It's something you don't want to happen to you and you don't really think about it. It's a risk that you just really don't consider."

"I don't ever like say exactly where I'm going, but sometimes I say I'm going out of town," said one Facebook and myspace user.

However, Almond said that could be all a predator needs.

"You start posting that's open to the public, I mean to everyone, saying I'm not at home and you've got enough information there where all I have to do is plug in a name and maybe even a state or a city," said Almond.  "It's not that hard to get an address. I can be at your house in ten minutes."

Almond said across the nation, there's been problems with people giving status updates that end in burglaries or other crimes, so how much is too much information?   He said try not to give your full name, don't give your date of birth, address, phone number, or directions to your house.

"I'll be more careful about it," said Facebook user Leslie Whitehurst.

Some users have already taken precautionary measures to make their profiles safer.

"All my pictures are set to my friends only and I don't put pictures on there that are promiscuous or anything and my profiles are all private," said a myspace user.

Almond said some predators are just looking for any information that they can make a dollar on.

The bottom line, you should give the bare minimum information when it comes to the web.

The Lufkin Police Department said it's also so important that parents know what their children are doing on the Internet and make sure you know their usernames and passwords.

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