How to be safe online

Ten tips you MUST read to protect yourself

1. Many millions of pounds every year are siphoned off by fraudsters who have got hold of financial details online. Make sure it doesn't happen to you by ensuring your computer has up to date software - you need anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewalls set up. A good security package will do all of this.

2. Only ever access your bank and other accounts – such as your utility bills, your HMRC tax records and credit cards online from your own computer. Don’t do it on a public computer and be wary of doing financial transactions on a tablet or phone when out and about. Make sure you’ve got anti-virus software on these too.

3. Never ever respond to emails asking for banking details, your tax records or anything that is password protected. Your bank won’t email you this way, nor will the taxman or other organisations. If you are worried that your security has been compromised then phone your bank as soon as possible to make sure your account isn’t hacked.

4. You must never ever give out your PIN to anyone. Or your internet banking passwords. Or anything that could be misused and damage your finances. And remember your bank will never ask for your password in full. Don't forget social media: if you've put your birthday up on a site, then that could be useful information for a fraudster.

5. Banks, broadband operators and other companies you deal with know your name: if an email doesn’t address you by name then you must be suspicious. The same applies to phone calls. If you get one from a company claiming you have, for example, a problem on your computer then ask them what your name is. Chances are, they will hang up on you as they know they’ve been rumbled.

6. Legitimate emails from your bank they won’t link you directly to the online banking page. Nor will they include forms to fill out. Fake email scams of this type are known as phishing.

7. If you are shopping online, always look out for a padlock symbol – it will usually be either at the bottom right hand side or in the browser. Use your credit card when shopping online: as long as you are spending between £100 to £30,000 then you are protected by the Consumer Credit Act – so your card company will cover you if there are problems with your purchase.

8. Card not present fraud is very common. This is when your card details are stolen and used to buy something online or over the phone where the card can’t actually be shown. It’s imperative to tell your bank if you have any suspicious transactions on your account. Often the fraudster will try a test transaction for a tiny sum first. 

9. Vigilance is your most useful tool. Check your bank account every day. Make sure you know where your credit and debit cards are the whole time. Ignore emails asking for money: delete them without reading.

10. Finally, be wary of ‘fat fingers’. If you are transferring money online to someone, you must check and recheck the account number. As yet there is no confirmation of the name of the account holder you’re moving money to: get the number wrong and you could be in trouble.


More stuff:

  • More top tips at Action Fraud.
  • Get help with finding the best internet anti-virus package at Tech Advisor
  • Been scammed? Find out what to do in the Which? article here.


Last updated 7 November 2018.