Nowadays, the way we shop, find out information and socialise has moved online. The word “Google” has changed from the name of a search engine to a verb to describe how we look for information. Many of our everyday purchases come from websites like Amazon or more recently, Groupon. We follow our favourite celebrities on Twitter and keep in contact with friends on Facebook.

However, with so much of our lives and financial information now on the internet, we need to make sure we’re protecting our personal data to stop it falling into the hands of online criminals.  So, here are 5 simple tips to help you stay safe:

  • Don’t open email attachments from strangers

If you don’t know who sent you the email, don’t click on any attachments or links, as they could contain a virus. If an email attachment comes from a familiar email address but you weren’t expecting anything from them, you should contact the sender before opening it.

  • Don’t respond to phishing emails

Phishing is when criminals send out an email pretending to be your bank or another well known company. The email will typically direct you to a website where you’ll be asked to update your personal information, such as a password or credit card details. The website will then steal any information you enter. Don’t fall into the trap of giving away your personal details to a phishing scam.

  • Remove personal details on social media

Personal information like your mobile number, email and home address are easy for strangers to find on your social media profile. Burglaries have been known to happen when people post that they’re on holiday and they have their address publicly showing on their Facebook. Remove any sensitive information like this or lock down your social media profile (via your Privacy settings) so only your friends can see this private information.

  • Check whether a website is secure

When you visit your bank’s website to log on to your account, you’ll see the address in the URL bar change from Http to https. The “s” stands for secure and means that you have extra security against people trying to steal your information. For example, Paypal’s website address is https://www.paypal.com/uk/home. Always check that the websites you visit are secure before you carry out any financial transactions.

  • Change up your password

Don’t be lazy when it comes to your passwords. Make sure every account has a different password and that you use a mixture of capitals, special characters and numbers. So, for example, if your password is Chantelle, you could change this to #Ch8nt3lle! to make it more secure.

Keeping yourself safe online doesn’t need to be a headache. Stay vigilant, question suspicious-looking emails which fall into your inbox and don’t make it easy for criminals to steal personal information from your online accounts.  By building these safeguards into your everyday activities, you can stay one step ahead of the criminals.

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