The internet can be used for a range of nefarious purposes. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) gives the following examples:
• to locate personal information
• to send unwanted communications
• as a means of surveillance;
• identity theft such as subscribing the victim to services, purchasing goods and services in their name;
• accessing the victim’s bank accounts, savings and investments;
• electronic sabotage such as spamming and sending viruses; or
• tricking other internet users into harassing or threatening a victim.
There are ways to help guard against these.
Start by checking to ensure your devices (computer, tablet, laptop, phone etc.) have not been compromised:
• Review all your privacy and security settings. Make sure you are using all the security and safety options available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and you know how to report.
Facebook safety resources: www.facebook.com/help/748040478549007?helpref=faq_content
Twitter safety and security: https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security#hacked-account
Youtube policies and safety: www.youtube.com/yt/about/policies/#reporting-and-enforcement
Instagram safety and privacy: https://help.instagram.com/285881641526716
• Regularly change your passwords for your online accounts (email, banking, social media, ticket booking sites, shopping sites etc) and keep them somewhere safe.
• Check your online presence and if there is personal information that you don't want to be there, contact the sites about removing information.
• Avoid public forums
• Ensure that your computer and mobile devices have updated anti-spyware software installed and turned on
• Ensure your wireless hub/router has security turned on.
• Unless you are using a secure web page, do not send or receive private information when using public WiFi
• Limit the personal and financial information you share on or offline.
• Remember real banks, building societies and other financial institutions never ask for account details by email or phone or text, nor will they ever ask for your PIN or for a whole security number or password. Nor will they ask you to create a new account or transfer money.
For clear advice and guidance visit www.getsafeonline.org Supported by the UK government and police, it provides practical information on how you can protect yourself, your mobile devices and computers against identity theft, fraud, being spied on and much more.
Another useful source of information and advice is ActionFraud www.actionfraud.police.uk