Guidance for staff, students & families: how to keep your personal data safe
Recent Government announcements give us great hope for an end to the Pandemic.
Now our nations attention can naturally turn to how to go about celebrating a Christmas with differences.
We think it is safe to assume that amongst this there will be even more online shopping than normal and equally more attempts to scam.
Cyber crime is relevant to all of us and in the spirit of goodwill, we thought it would be useful to publish some personal guidance for you, your staff & if you wish, your pupils’ parents too.
Wondering just how relevant this is though? Action Fraud think nearly 17 ½ thousand people lost a blistering circa £13.5 million to online shopping fraud last Christmas!
So; there is no doubt – as we move into December fake websites, phishing emails & offers ‘too good to refuse’ are likely to be very prevalent indeed.
That’s potential for a lot of upset people & we want to do our bit to help prevent it happening.
So – what should you watch out for & what can you do?
#1 Be careful where you shop on line.
Firstly, do your research on online retailers to check they're legitimate.
Check out feedback from people or organisations that you know are ok (consumer websites are especially good).
Always look a gift horse in the mouth! – if a deal looks too amazing it may well be fraudulent.
Beware emails or texts you receive about great deals, which may be links to fake websites. If unsure, don't use the link.
#2 Look out for suspicious emails, calls, and text messages.
Many messages come from online stores after 'opting in' to future communications from them. Among these there can be fake ones & these can be hard to identify.
So, if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t – don’t use it!
#3 Where you have accounts always use strong passwords.
You are at risk if you always use the same password, it is too simple or can be easily guessed.
Make your passwords complex & vary them.
#4 Use a credit (not debit) card for online payments.
Use a credit card when shopping online because card providers protect online purchases.
Also, unlike debit cards, should your payment details be stolen, nothing to do with your personal bank accounts will be at risk.
Online payment platforms, such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay are also good because of their dispute resolution services. Also useful; the retailer doesn’t see your payment details.
Always check for a 'closed padlock' icon in the browser's address bar. It means that the connection is secure. If the padlock icon is not there don’t use the site.
#5 Turn on 'Two-Factor Authentication' (2FA).
2FA is a passcode which is randomly generated and usually sent to your phone when logging in to an account. Using this means it is much more difficult for scammers to compromise accounts.
#6 Be a Scrooge with your personal information.
Online stores ask for information e.g. address, and bank information. Only fill in mandatory information, minimising the potential for misuse later.
Look out for warning signs. Stores asking for superfluous information (e.g. where you were schooled) might mean the company is not legitimate.
Also, if possible don't create an account unless you really need to (e.g. you are going to shop again). Checkout as a guest where possible.
#7 React appropriately if things go wrong
If you think your credit or debit card has been used by someone else, let your bank know straight away (using their official website or phone number). This way they can block anyone using it.
If you think you have been a victim of cyber crime, report the incident to Action Fraud via phone (0300 123 2040) or website at www.actionfraud.police.uk
With luck & care hopefully, you won’t be scammed this Christmas – we sincerely hope not.
Best wishes & we hope your Christmas preparations go well.