Today is Safer Internet Day, with hundreds of companies getting involved to promote the topic to children and young people.
But it’s not just the younger generation that need to be careful online; there are regular stories in the news about people’s personal or financial information being stolen, as well as cleverly run scams. Here are some handy hints to help you stay safe when using the internet.
Keep security software up-to-date
It’s important you use security software to help prevent any threats, such as malware or viruses, which can destroy your computer, or keyloggers and Trojans, which are used to spy on your computer use in an attempt to steal your passwords and personal details. Some security software is free, and some systems come with them included. Others, such as McAfee™ or Norton™, you’ll have to buy.
Don’t be lazy with passwords
Get creative with your passwords and don’t use the same one for all of your accounts as if a hacker does manage to get hold of it, they’ll have access to everything. Don’t use something that’s easy to guess, such as your middle name or your pet’s name, and use a mix of standard letters, capital letters, numbers and punctuation to make it even more secure.
Watch out for scam emails
If you receive an email claiming to be from your bank or lender, it may not always be genuine. If there’s a missing logo, it’s badly written, or if it’s asking you for personal details, it may well be a scam. Your financial services provider won’t ever ask you for your log-in details to confirm your account details, or for you to transfer cash to them. If you do receive a suspicious email, don’t reply to it - give your bank or lender a call and they’ll be able to tell you if it’s legitimate or not.
Watch out for scam phone calls too
There have been lots of reports on phone scams in the news recently, so it’s really important to be cautious over what information you give out over the phone. A bank or lender will never ask for all of your security details in one go, so if you get a call asking you for all of your details, hang up the phone and contact your bank or lender for advice on whether it was a genuine call.
Don’t give information away on social media
If you want to talk about personal things on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, that’s fine, but think carefully before posting things like your address or bank details, even if it’s just to a friend. Make sure your security settings are tight too – so only let your friends view your page, rather than leaving it public for all to see.
Be safe when shopping online
Always make sure a site is secure before typing in your card details to buy something. You can tell if it’s secure by looking for a small padlock symbol in the address bar and an address beginning with ‘https://’, with the ‘s’ standing for ‘secure’. Other things you can do is to search for reviews of the website you’re about to buy off to check that it’s legitimate. And use your common sense too – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Pay on your credit card
If you’re buying something online for more than £100, it may be a good idea to use a credit card if you have one, such as the Ocean credit card. That’s because, if you spend more that £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act gives you extra protection if things go wrong. For example, you can claim the money back against your credit card company – this isn’t something you can do if you pay on your debit card or with cash.
If you pay on debit card, you may be able to use chargeback to get some, or all, of your money back if something never arrives, or arrives damaged or not as expected. Unfortunately though, there are no guarantees that your bank will be able to recover the money through chargeback, which is why it could be a safer bet to pay with your credit card for items costing larger amounts.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.