Many of you will have woken up on Christmas morning with the latest cutting-edge technology waiting for you under the tree.
While the most state-of-the-art smart phone might have been all you wanted for Christmas, all Cheshire Police want this year, is for you to stay safe online.
While we want you to enjoy all the gifts you receive this Christmas, we want to make sure that you know how you can stay safe online, and bring to your attention the risks associated with internet use.
Recent figures have shown a rise is the number of online crimes across Cheshire and the UK. According to Get Safe Online, the UK saw a 22% increase in online crime in 2015.
Detective Sergeant Brian Faint said: “Online crime can have a devastating impact on those who fall victim to online fraudsters. People often take extra care when it comes to their belongings and valuables, but fail to think about their online security. Anyone can fall victim to online crime and we want to remind you to remain security conscious and do everything you can to reduce the risk of being targeted by those intent in causing misery in our communities.
“The latest figures released by Get Safe Online show the scale and impact that online crime is having on individuals and businesses across Cheshire.
“As people continue to be affected by online crime, this Christmas we want to provide important safety advice to the public of Cheshire so they can tackle any issues as they arise.”
Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Officers will be working hard over the festive period helping to keep you safe online. While Christmas should be a period for festive cheer, it can bring misery to those who fall victim of online crime.
“By taking some simple precautions you can help to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of online crime and I encourage everyone to read and listen to the advice from the Constabulary this Christmas.”
There are some simple steps that can be taken to make sure that online fraudsters do not get everything on their wish-list this Christmas.
Experts at Get Safe Online encourage everyone to start making every day safer by following a few simple steps:
• Review the passwords you use on your online accounts: Make sure they’re strong enough and that you’re not using the same ones for more than one account. Consider how you’re going to remember them all – such as using an online password safe.
• Check your social media privacy settings. Make sure your information and updates are seen only by those you trust.
• Update your operating system and software programs/apps on your computer, mobile phone and tablet if you’ve been prompted to do so. It takes only a few minutes and with your mobile devices, you can even do it while you’re asleep.
• Back up your information – using the cloud is a great way to save all your documents, photos, music, emails and other irreplaceable files.
• Check that your internet security software and apps are up to date and switched on.
• If you have children, think about whether you’re doing enough to help ensure they’re staying safe online.
• If you’ve lost money report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.
• Take a few minutes to read the expert, easy-to-follow, free advice on all of these and considerably more subjects at www.getsafeonline.org
Get Safe Online are offering the following advice to consumers:
- SHOP, SHOP, SHOP – If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality or doesn’t even exist. Always check payment pages are secure, and log out when you’ve finished shopping online.
- AUCTION BARGAIN … OR NOT? – When making a purchase from an auction website, use insured payment methods like PayPal and never do a bank transfer to people you don’t know. Do all you can to check the seller or buyer are authentic. And look out for fake goods: they’re illegal and cost livelihoods.
- JUST THE TICKET – Buying gig or event tickets as a gift, or for yourself? To avoid fraud, buy only from official sources, and never pay by direct transfer.
- COME FLY AWAY – Whether you’re planning a break at Christmas or next year, make sure the holiday or flight is genuine by researching it thoroughly, and check travel agents for an ABTA/ATOL number.
- WHO’S ASKING? – Scam emails, calls, texts and posts are getting cleverer and you’re bound to get some over Christmas. Think twice before you get talked into anything, however busy you are.
- YOUR PASSWORD IS YOURS. KEEP IT THAT WAY! – Passwords that are easy to guess, that you use for more than one account or that you share with others, are a no-no!
- SECURELY CONNECTED? – Secure Wi-Fi is vital for your privacy. At home, check your router security settings. Out and about, never use free Wi-Fi hotspots when what you’re doing is private.
- GREAT OFFER, OR SUBSCRIPTION TRAP? – Don’t sign up for ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trial goods without thoroughly reading the small print. You could be signing up for massive direct debits.
- SEASON’S GREETINGS – Don’t open attachments or click on links in festive (or any other) emails you’re not expecting, as they could be scams. And be careful with ecards as they can be fraudulent too.
- AVOID THOSE NASTY CHRISTMAS VIRUSES – And we don’t mean coughs and colds! Always have internet security (antivirus) software and apps switched on and updated (including those new phone and tablet gifts).