FDLE: Thieves, predators can track your family through photo posts

By Mike Holfeld, Problem Solver, mholfeld@clickorlando.com
Published On: Jul 11 2013 11:43:51 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 12 2013 06:34:27 AM EDT

Those smartphone pictures you send to your inner circle are going very public, depending on what site you use.

ORLANDO. Fla. -

FDLE Cyber crimes investigators say every time a consumer posts a smart phone photo to sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and Yahoo, that photo is “tagged” with an electronic finger-print packed with information that could lead a thief or predator to your child’s school, playground or even your home.

[WEB EXTRA: Geotagging guide]

Special Agent Steve Brenton says the GPS setting for smart phone cameras including iPhone and Android models provide a “geo-location” that allows anybody to track “exactly where that photograph was taken.”

The information is precise including the exact longitude and latitude of the location where the shot was taken. Those electronic bread crumbs are called XF-Data.

Shelly Bruskotter and her three sons Hayden, Presley and Jensen discovered hundreds of family photographs with a trail of locations laid out on a Google map from California to Florida.

“That’s where we have been for the last four years, that’s frightening,” she said.

Bruskotter says she had no idea posting photographs on certain sites would provide so much detail.

All three boys ages 6,9 and 11 have a smartphone and they post photographs.

Agent Brenton says there are free applications that even a computer novice can use to “ review the data on a specific picture to determine where it was taken, the date and time it was taken, and the make and model of the camera that took the photograph.”

Investigators have seen an increase in crimes involving posts on child pornographic sites.

“Bad guys know the social networking sites and social media sites that kids are going to," Brenton says.“They spend more time on the computer than the kids do, just to find the kids on these social networking sites.”

Each smart phone has a different setting to disconnect the GPS mode.

With iPhone simply go to settings and go to the camera app. then hit privacy and finally the locations services setting. Go to camera and change the setting from on to off.

Each Android model is slightly different.

I own the Samsung Galaxy 3. Click on to your camera app. Then click the icon to the left. It will read edit shortcuts. From there hit the settings icon in the top left corner. Scroll down to GPS TAG and turn it off.

If you have a different model go to this link for more information.

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