Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What are you putting out there?

I try not to reveal too much about myself on the internet. I know, that seems strange since, being a blogger, I like to document my life for the whole internet, but it's true. My name on my blog profile is "Jay T," I only have my first name on Instagram, I don't really talk about my job, and I don't think I've ever listed the actual city that I live in. I do this for safety and to keep people I know "IRL" from accidentally stumbling across my blog. So, last month when a man found out where I lived based on some Facebook pictures (that weren't mine) and left a note on my front door, I was slightly unnerved.

Let's back up.

A couple of months ago Keith witnessed an accident on the highway leading toward our house. A car was stopped and was hit by another car who didn't notice the flashing hazard lights. Being the good citizen that he is, he left his name and phone number with the driver who was hit just in case the police or an insurance company needed to get in touch with him. He told me about the accident but when he didn't hear anything from anybody after a few weeks we both just kind of forgot about it.

Then, in April, Keith left for China for 3.5 weeks. I was alone and was pretty nervous for the first few nights, so I kept a baseball bat next to my bed just in case. One day, about a week and a half into Keith's trip, I came home and found a note on my front door. I figured I had forgotten to pay the water bill and it was a notice that if I didn't pay up (I'm forgetful, okay??) our water would be shut off, or something like that. When I read the note I found that it was from the girlfriend of the man whose car had been hit on the highway several weeks back. The man's insurance company had been trying to get a hold of Keith but had been unsuccessful so they wanted Keith to call them.

I just assumed Keith had (for some reason) given the man our address. I called him to let him know Keith would call the insurance company in a couple of weeks, and when I told him who I was he was ecstatic.

"I'm so glad you called! This is the best phone call ever! I'm so glad I figured out where you guys live!"

....hold the phone, please. You figured out where we live??

It turns out that the guy found Keith on Facebook and looked through his pictures to try and get some identifying info. He saw some pictures of the outside of our house that Keith had posted and realized it was the same street he lived on and he drove by our house every single day. He recognized our driveway, our cars, the house across the street... it kind of creeped me out.

I immediately felt nervous that I had told him I'd be alone in the house for the next couple of weeks because um, hi, I watch way too much true crime and have you ever seen The Craigslist Killer? so I kept that baseball bat by my bed for the duration of Keith's trip just in case.

Nothing bad ever happened and I'm sure that man and his girlfriend are wonderful people and were really just being resourceful, but it still got me thinking: what information am I putting out there that could be unsafe for me and my family?

What information are you putting out there? Do you post pictures of the outside of your house? Do any of your pictures ever include your street address? Your license plate number? Your employer?

I'm sure if somebody wanted to find me and figure out all of my personal information, it could be done. But why make it easier than it should be?

(PS: This campaign ends on March 29th!)


  1. I think about this a lot and I am REALLY guilty of divulging a lot. I've recently tried to be conscious of it and eliminating certain details and am always in awe when people try to get me to say things on social media. "Which building are you in in (name of town)?" UM, I'M NOT WRITING THAT ON MY PUBLIC INSTAGRAM? Your story gave me the chills - we have to be careful, for sure.

  2. That's really creepy (even though they obviously didn't mean to be). And will definitely make me think more about what I'm putting out there.

  3. Oh my gosh! It's true with how much information we put out there and don't even realize it. In life, I'm a pretty private person except for when it comes to my close friends. Blogging is my outlet though, so sometimes I worry about making my posts too personal/revealing.
    Btw, one of my friends works for BMW and there are people there whose jobs are to go through people's social media accounts. They want to find identifying information about people who don't make car payments!! Often times people will post pics of their cars and a street name will be in the background or they'll check in somewhere, and that's how their cars eventually get repossessed!

  4. Yikes that's so scary! I try to be careful about what I post, but this is a really good reminder!

  5. Yup, I've been able to track people down via Facebook. Luckily for them, I'm not a scary creepy murderer. But it's amazing how easy it is.

  6. Yuppers! I used to have all my info public many moons ago. At least as far as my name and kids names and what not. Then I realized how easy it is to track people down. I deleted all that and now just use basic stuff like a, b, c for my kids and the like. Now people that I have a close relationship to online obviously know my real info. Lot of weirdos out there. I am one. Haha