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Protecting yourself and your online data

As we increasingly spend more of our time online, the risk increases for our personal data to be obtained or misused by criminals.

To help protect yourself and your data online, read our guidance - based on information published by the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, Action Fraud and the National Crime Agency:

Banking and Financial Information

  • Check your bank accounts and financial statements (bank and credit cards) regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank.
  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited calls, emails or texts, even if it appears to be from a company you know.
  • Do not open the attachments or click on links within unsolicited emails. No bank or card issuer will contact you by e-mail and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, and then delete it.
  • Do not disclose your personal or financial details during an unsolicited call, and remember that the police and banks will never ring you and ask you to verify your PIN, withdraw your cash, or to transfer your money to another “safe” account. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, and then delete it.

Passwords 

Strong passwords are essential in keeping your information safe:

  • A good way to start is by choosing three random words. Numbers and symbols can also be used e.g. 8tablestarpony24!
  • Use a strong separate password for your email and other important accounts.
  • For more information on creating a strong password, visit the Government campaign website, Cyber Aware.

Laptops and desktops 

To keep your laptop or computer safe and virus-free:

  • Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.
  • Never follow the messages from anti-virus software you encounter while on the internet. Only follow the anti-virus instructions from the software you have installed.
  • Ensure that your software is up to date.
  • Always use a firewall.
  • Install an anti-spyware package. Spyware is software that aims to gather information about a person or organisation, sometimes without their knowledge. This software may then send this information to another entity without your consent. It may also gain control over your device without your knowledge, or it may send information about you to another entity, through cookies.

Remember, if you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, please report it on the Action Fraud website or call 0300 123 2040.

If you are worried about identity fraud you can contact CIFAS on 0330 100 0180 or visit the CIFAS website.