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How to stay safe online

We spend a large part of our lives online, whether on our computers or our phones, and it’s important to feel like we’re keeping ourselves – and all of our personal information – safe.

Here are some of the best things you and your your family can do to stay safe online.

Always double-check an e-mail sender

Sometimes you'll get an e-mail or text message that looks legitimate at first, but it’s actually a scam.

When you get an email from a company, always check that the email address it’s been sent from looks right. The email address should be the same as the company’s website address, for example

If the sender doesn’t match or seem official enough, don’t click on any links or buttons in that e-mail.

Be suspicious of text messages

Companies won't send you text messages unless you've signed up to receive them.

Many frauds and scams now come in the form of text messages. They could be asking you to pay for a Royal Mail redelivery or even telling you that you owe HMRC.

If you get a text message with any links, don’t click on them until you’ve made sure the sender is who they say they are. You can do this by contacting them on a number you know is theirs.

If you've received a message from a mobile number (starting with 07) claiming to be from a company or government body, it's most likely a scam.

Watch out for cloned websites

Online scammers will build pages that look just like the ones you’re used to, but they can never replicate a URL!

Sometimes you’ll click on a link sent to you by someone who is trying to scam you – we’ve all been there! The page will look exactly like the official website the scammer is trying to replicate, but it’s actually a fake page they've built to trick people.

Whenever you're sent to a page that asks you to put in personal details, look up the same website on Google and compare the web address (URL) at the top. If the web addresses don't match, don’t give them your information.

You can also check if a webpage is secure by clicking on the padlock in the address bar. If the page is safe, it should say something along the lines of "this connection is secure".

Be wary of phone calls you didn’t expect

If you receive a sudden phone call or voice mail from a number you don’t know, claiming to be from a company or government body and asking for your information, take a step back.

Look up the contact numbers for the organisation they're claiming to be and check if the numbers match. Ask the caller where they got your number from and don’t answer any questions without verifying that they are who they say they are.

If you’re in any doubt, tell them you’ll ring them back and do so on a number you know is correct, for example one from the contact page on their website.

Bear in mind that financial institutions such as banks will never call you unless you've asked them to, and will never ask you to move money in any way via phone call.

Beware of strangers on social media

The internet lets us not only stay connected long-distance, but also meet people we never would have in person. But not everyone who sends you a friend request or a direct message has good intentions.

Be wary if anyone suddenly asks you for money or for very personal information. Scammers may pretend to be someone else to catch you off-guard. They could ask you for personal details or even tell you a sad story to persuade you to give them money – don’t fall into their trap!

Don’t click on strange pop-ups, buttons or ads

This is one of the oldest ways of scamming people online. Suspicious adverts have been around since the early days of the internet and they come in many forms such as pop-up windows, buttons and banner ads.

If anything on a pop-up or banner ad looks interesting to you, look up the company or brand online before you click on anything that’s thrown at you. They might be legitimate or they might not, but keeping your information safe is always worth two minutes of detective work!

Check if a business is trustworthy

Sometimes you’ll see a business or product that interests you. Their website and e-mail address seem legitimate and the advert you saw online looked professional.

Just like everything else, never give a business your personal information or payment details before checking. A good step to take is to check a company’s Trustpilot reviews, especially if you’re buying something online or moving money.

Log out

If you use any device that doesn’t belong exclusively to you, such as a computer at an internet cafe or a hotel office centre, always log out of any accounts you’ve used.

You should also clear your cookies, cache and any stored passwords. You can do this by going into your Internet browser settings and looking for the privacy and security options.

We hope this guide helps you to stay safe online. There are so many wonderful things out there on the internet, and you should be able to enjoy them knowing you and your information are protected at all times.

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