Did you know that online fraud has stolen £848.4 million from the unwary in just the last year!
Your online safety is something you need to be aware of – big time!
- Over 50% of Britons have experienced online crime
- over half of those affected said they felt violated and were emotionally distressed by the experience.
Cybercrime is something we all need to be conscious of and vigilant against.
It comes in a variety of forms including
- online fraud,
- ID theft,
- intentional distribution of viruses
- online abuse,
and is something we should be taking every bit as seriously as crime in the real world.
Alarmingly the £847.4million figure only accounts for the top ten online frauds and the true cost to the nation is probably higher because many forms of online fraud go unreported.
Here are our top ten ways to protect yourself from Online fraud
- Use a password. Whether it’s your phone, laptop or social media account, it’s vital that you have it password protected. Never use the same password more than once (yes, we know it’s a pains!) and don’t choose obvious passwords such as the name of your pet or your mother’s maiden name. Cyber Streetwise have released government guidance on creating a strong password.
- Keep your accounts private. Make sure only your friends can see your social media accounts. This will stop anyone from just nabbing personal information about you from your profiles (plus it’s something you should be doing anyway. Do you really want your prospective employer seeing all your drunken photos?… Didn’t think so!)
- Password protect your home WiFi. Without a password anyone can use your network which means they may well be looking at everything you’re doing.
- Be very careful using open WiFi. Easier said than done this one, particularly when you’re desperate for internet, but you shouldn’t be using hotspots that you don’t know is secured. Some nasty fraudsters even create hotspots that sound legit so make sure you know the exact name of the network.
- Make sure there’s a padlock. If you’re shopping or banking online, look out for the padlock symbol – this lets you know it is secure. Also make sure the web address begins with ‘https://’, the ‘s’ (standing for ‘secure’) being the most important part.
- Use anti-virus software. Make sure you have anti-virus software on all your devices that are connected to the internet. These do a great job keeping you safe!
- Bid smartly. If you’re using an auction site then don’t transfer money directly to a bank account or hand over personal details. Make sure the auction site itself is legit and follow its guidelines to the letter – they’re helping you avoid these fraudsters!
- Log out and log off. When you’ve finished using an account then log out and when you’ve finished using the computer log off. Not doing so is the equivalent of leaving your house door open (and even if you’re not affected by cybercrime, a cheeky family member may take advantage of the situation!)
- Be cautious about what you put online. Don’t put information that could endanger you or the lives of others. Once it’s online you can’t take it back.
- Be careful with your messages. Don’t open or forward on suspicious emails and NEVER open attachments unless you’re certain they’re safe. Fraudsters throw countless numbers of these emails out there and are looking for poor souls to take the bait.
If you think you’ve been a victim of cybercrime you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If you’re a victim of online abuse or harassment (a growing trend today, sadly) then contact your local police force.
For general advice on how to stay safe online visit Get Safe Online.