Staying safe online

  • Whether checking your bank account or making a purchase always make sure you are using the real website. There are some clever ads online that look like they may be from your bank or favourite shop but are actually fake. These fake ads may contain a virus or be set up to steal your personal information. A good tip is that secure websites will show a padlock in the corner of the browser – look out for this.

  • Always check the website address and if you’re not familiar with it be wary of clicking on any links. Make sure the URL – that is the address of the website you are visiting - is spelt correctly, hackers may change just one character of a URL and at first glance it may look like the real one - so always double-check.

    Another way to stay safe online is to make sure any website you visit uses HTTPS, this will appear at the beginning of the URL. The ‘S’ in HTTPS means ‘secure ‘ so you can be happy that your information will be  safe and secure. You will find HTTPS used for most online banking and shopping sites.

  • Make sure your passwords are secure, unique and kept private. It’s also good to have different passwords for each account so if one account gets hacked, they can’t also login to your other accounts. 

    Some of the most common passwords include 123456, qwerty, password and abc123 so if any of these are your current password change them to something that will keep you safer.

  • If you are banking or shopping online always use your own mobile phone, laptop or PC rather than one at school or in the library. It can be easy to forget to log out of accounts on public computers, meaning the person after you can access your information.

    Also, public computers may not be as safe or kept as up-to-date as your own PC or Laptop, which means you could be at risk of being hacked and having your information stolen.

  • Never give your bank or building society account details in an email. If you receive an email from your bank or building society asking you to confirm your account number, sort code or CVV number (that’s the number on the back of your debit or credit card, next to your signature) it may be a hacker pretending to be your account provider. If in doubt always ring your bank (or building society) directly and ask them to confirm whether or not they sent the email.

    The same goes for online shops asking for your details via email, if you can’t be sure the email is actually from the shop so always give them a call to check.

  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed to help keep it protected and keep you safe online. Anti-virus software will look for and remove viruses before they have a chance to infect your computer and anti-spyware software prevents tracking your activities and scanning your PC for personal information. 

  • Online fraudsters are clever, they can make websites or emails look like the real thing and fool many people. Make sure you check URLs and if you’re ever in doubt leave the site and speak to the company directly. Fraudsters may also be lurking in your emails, and and may ask for your account details to transfer your prize money or pretending to be someone you trust.

  • Social media sites are full of strangers. Never accept a friend request from anyone you don’t know. Hackers on social media sites may ask you for personal details such as your address, phone number, email, bank details or passwords. Speak to an adult before you share any personal data or banking information.