Staying Safe on the Internet
The internet, mobile phones, email, online shopping - these are all amazingly useful tools. They add a whole level of convenience to all our lives, but they come at a price. As with all walks of life there are criminals, thieves, hackers and other low-life seeking to exploit anyone and anything they can for personal gain. It therefore follows that we as users must take some precautions in our travels. Think of it as a Highway Code for the Digital Age.
You will find lots more about all aspects of net safety at Get Safe Online
Please take a few minutes to read these back-to-basics tips that can help you to stay safe. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to start.
The ongoing telephone scam of callers pretending to be from BT telling you that you have a virus etc etc has changed a bit. There is a growth in the number of 'robot' calls where a machine tells you that your line is going to be disconnected and then offers you a range of numbers to press. Needless to say pressing that number is a bad idea as you'll be diverted to a high premium call number (as in £10 a minute stuff) so you are paying them to allow them to steal your information. Just put the phone down/press the red button.
IMPORTANT Update February 2018
The recent introduction of Open Banking in January 2018 has provided new ways for companies and services to look at your financial data and thereby provide you with better suggestions for products or services that you may or may not need. The Open Banking system itself is explained well by the Money saving Experts team on the web page linked on the right 'Open Banking Explained'. However, be aware that con men may try to exploit this in some way as part of a scam phone call. You are not required to make any changes to your current arrangements and there is no legal obligation for you to provide bank login details to anyone EVER.
- January 2018 - There have been a number of reports on the BBC and in the press about problems with the chips in large numbers of computers. These problems are real and have been dubbed Spectre and Meltdown. They affects PC's, Laptops, Mobile Phones and Tablets, in short pretty much everything. Manufacturers and software suppliers are pushing out updates to deal with this. However, it will take time and some difficulties are being experienced where updates on Windows computers are not working because of antivirus software. Some older smartphones and tablets may not be updated at all. This is a complex situation so, if in doubt, please seek professional assistance with your device.
- Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully, and use a different one for every online account in case one or more get hacked.
- Look after your mobile devices. Don’t leave them unattended in public places, and protect them with a PIN or passcode.
- If you get a call from someone claiming to have discovered a virus on your computer, it is a scam. They may say they are from Microsoft or BT or your bank or something else plausible. Just put the phone down - it is not rude, it is not bad mannners - they are crooks!
- Ensure you always have internet security software loaded on computers and a similar app on your mobile devices, and that this is kept updated and switched on. Remember that smartphones and tablets can get compromised as much as computers.
- You must not assume that Wi-Fi hotspots in places like cafes, bars and hotel rooms are secure, so never use them when you’re doing anything confidential online. Instead, use 3G or 4G (your phone's data connection rather than wi-fi)
- Never reveal too much personal or financial information in emails, on social networking and dating sites and in person. You never know who might see it, or use it.
- Always consider that online or on the phone, people aren’t always who they claim to be. Fake emails and phone calls are a favourite way for fraudsters to approach their victims.
- Don’t click on links in emails, posts, tweets or texts if the source isn’t 100% known and trustworthy, or it seems strange that you’d be receiving them.
- ABOVE ALL --- DO NOT OPEN UNEXPECTED ATTACHMENTS!!! even if they sound like invoices or notices about mail deliveries.
- Never pay for anything by direct bank transfer – including goods, services, tickets, travel and holidays – unless it’s to someone you know personally and is reputable.
- Take your time and think twice because everything may not be as it seems.
- Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.