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How Thieves Can Track You Through Your Photos

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(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Christina Parker loves taking pictures with her smart phone.

“I like to take a lot of photos of my dog and post them on Twitter,” she said.

But one day she got an ominous tweet from the web site icanstalku.com, telling her they know where she lives.

“I thought it was a little scary,” she said. “My immediate response was: how do you know where I am?”

GEOTAGS

Christina’s photos contained GPS information called geotags which are automatically embedded into the photo by her smart phone. Every time she used her phone to post a photo, she was also posting her location.

Computer expert Gerald Friedland recently published a study on the privacy implications of geotagging. He found most people have no idea what they are posting.

“There is enough information out there that you can actually track people and do potential harm to them,” he explained.

That is exactly what Larry Pesce wants to warn people about. He co-founded icanstalku.com after he discovered a photo of his child revealed her location.

HOW IT WORKS

He said there a number of ways these photos could get you into trouble.

“Let’s take a picture of your nice new 50-inch plasma TV at your house. Now you’re sharing the location of that TV. An hour later, you post a photograph from a 711 store, now we know you’re not home,” he explained.

According to Pesce, you don’t have to be an expert to get the information.

“Just about anybody that can operate a computer and do a few right clicks could find out someone’s location,” he said.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

To protect yourself, all you have to do is turn off the GPS feature on your phone’s camera. It won’t affect the other GPS capabilities, and it may help keep you safer.

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