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Protect yourself from online scams

This advice applies to England

To protect your identity and cash from online scammers:

  • only allow someone to remotely access your computer if they are from a trusted source, such as your internet service provider
  • create passwords which are long, unique and use a mix of random numbers and lower and upper case letters (the longer the password the harder it is to guess - a 10 digit password is better than an 8 digit one)
  • make sure you change passwords regularly and don't share them
  • use antivirus software and keep it up to date so you'll be protected against the most recent viruses - if you buy software online make sure it is from a genuine supplier
  • understand what software you are installing on your computer or phone and make sure you are using a secure site when you buy software, tablet or smart phone - a secure site will have a web address beginning with https, not http
  • make sure your firewall is switched on - operating systems such as Windows come with built in firewall settings, which can monitor and warn you of unexpected access to your computer
  • make sure you regularly install updates to your operating system (Windows is an example of an operating system)
  • install the latest version of your web browser, for example Internet Explorer, which will have the latest security features
  • don’t open suspicious or unknown emails, email attachments, texts or pop up messages - for example an email with an unusually worded subject heading
  • no genuine company will contact you to ask for your log-in details, such as your password or user id - you should only need to provide this information when you are logging onto a service such as online banking
  • before entering payment card details on a website, make sure the link is secure

To make sure you have a secure link you should check that:

  • there's a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register (be sure the padlock is not on the page itself – if it is this will probably indicate a fraudulent site)
  • the web address begins with ‘https://’ -  the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’
  • the address bar or the name of the site owner has turned green, if you're using the latest version of your browser

If you get a possible scam email

If you've opened a scam email don’t reply to it and don’t click on any links or pictures, or open any attachments.

If you've already clicked on a link and opened a website, don’t give any personal information.

Other useful information

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