Staying safe online

Follow the tips in this guide to make sure you stay safe online.

More and more people are using computers, smartphones and tablets to get online. It’s a great way to stay connected with family members, shop online, look up information, and even make new friends.

The internet has lots of positive aspects, but there are things you need to avoid. These include viruses, which can infect your computer and damage it, and online scams.

Online scams are when criminals use the internet to try to con people into giving them money or their personal information. They usually do this through fake websites, bogus emails and even chat rooms. The five most common online scams are:

  • Computer Viruses
  • Online Shopping
  • Fake Websites
  • Relationship scams
  • Health scams

Always remember to protect your computer and be aware of the the most common scams.

Ageuk – Staying safe online

Protecting your computer

A computer connected to the internet is at risk from rogue programs called viruses. They spread from computer to computer in email attachments and files downloaded from the internet.

If a virus infects your computer, it can make it slow and even leave you open to identity theft. To keep your computer safe, you should have security software installed and up to date. You will need:

  • anti-virus software to look for and remove viruses
  • firewall software to create a barrier between your computer and the internet, which will block viruses and prevent anyone from connecting to your computer without permission
  • anti-spyware software to prevent programs that allow unwanted adverts to pop up, track your activities or scan your computer for private data, such as credit card numbers.

Please make sure that payments sites are secure by ensuring the browser bar starts with https://. Also the padlock symbol is visible on the browser bar and not just in the text on the screen.

How to choose security software

There are many types of anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall software available, but the best option for beginners is to purchase a complete suite from a reputable provider. It’s a good idea to check with your internet service provider, because they will often offer security software as part of your broadband deal.

For more information about anti-virus software and protecting your wireless network, visit the Get Safe Online website.

You could also use Trading Standards Approved Trader Scheme by going onto the Buy with confidence web site. This scheme provides consumers with a list of local businesses which have given their commitment to trading fairly. Every business listed has undergone a series of detailed checks before being approved as a member of the scheme.

Report internet fraud to Action Fraud

Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and crime reporting centre. It provides a central point of contact about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. A comprehensive A - Z list of all the different types of frauds / scams are included. Helpful tips and advice are also available on this web site.

An online reporting tool is available or you can call and speak to an adviser on 0300 123 2040.

Sign up to Action Fraud Alert

You can now sign up for free to Action Fraud Alert to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message.