This week is Get Safe Online week, a national campaign raising awareness of online crime and highlighting practical advice on how the public can protect themselves against online criminals.
People are spending more of their lives online, and share personal data via e-mail and social media. If a criminal obtains this data, they can use it to make their scams more believable and difficult to detect. Fraudsters can use this data to trick people into sharing confidential information linked to online accounts.
How you can keep yourself safe
To help you avoid becoming a victim of online crime, Get Safe Online encourages you to take some simple steps:
Don’t publish your date of birth in your profile or highlight your birthday in posts or tweets. Your date of birth is very useful information for a fraudster, hacker or identity thief.
Remember that if you use the names of pets, family members, a sports team or other ‘favourite’ things in your passwords or memorable words, and reveal your likes and dislikes online, you may be handing a criminal clues to your login details.
Don’t reveal your passport number, driving licence number or any other official details to anyone unless you’re absolutely sure that they are authentic, and that providing these details is necessary.
Don’t get fooled into revealing your PINs or passwords in response to an email, social networking post, text or phone call, however convincing it seems that the request is from your bank or the police.
Don’t write down or store login details electronically or on paper, where there’s a chance they could be found.
Never open an email attachment unless you’re 100% certain of who sent it, or what it is. This is because it could contain a virus that steals your personal information. Even an email that seems to come from a friend or colleague could have been sent by a virus on their device. If in doubt, ask the person you believe sent it before opening anything.
You can find further crime prevention advice on Get Safe Online’s website.
Who you need to speak to
If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (where you have lost money) 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 are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.