Here are some top tips for using the internet safely:
- Check for presence of an address, phone number and/or email contact – often indications that the website is genuine. If in doubt, send an email or call to establish authenticity.
- Check that the website’s address seems to be genuine by looking for misspellings, extra words, characters or numbers or a completely different name from that you would expect the business to have.
- Roll your mouse pointer over a link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your browser. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from either another website or an email.
- If there is NO padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link, do not enter personal information on the site. This indicates that the website owners have a digital certificate that has been issued by a trusted third party, such as VeriSign or Thawte, which indicates that the information transmitted online from that website has been encrypted and protected from being intercepted and stolen by third parties.
- Avoid ‘pharming’ by checking the address in your browser’s address bar after you arrive at a website to make sure it matches the address you typed. This will avoid ending up at a fake site even though you entered the address for the authentic one – for example ‘eebay’ instead of ‘ebay.
- Some browsers will let you enable and disable cookies on a site by site basis so you can allow them on sites you trust. Use an anti-spyware program that scans for so-called tracker cookies. UK websites must gain your permission to enable cookies.
- Always ensure that you are running the latest version of your chosen browser that your operating system will support. Also, be sure to download and install the latest updates.
- Always remember to log out of a secure website when you have completed your transaction, and before you close the browser. Closing the browser does not necessarily log you out.
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.