Staying safe online

To make sure that you get the most out of using Connect to Support Wakefield and the internet more widely it is important that you are aware of steps you can take to help you stay safe online, whether you are looking up information, shopping or getting in touch with friends.

Shopping and banking online

The internet is a really useful way to shop and manage money from your home particularly at times when shops and banks would be closed. Shopping on line can also be a good way to make sure you are not paying too much for goods as you can easily compare prices and make sure you are getting a good deal.

Although there are lots of benefits of shopping online it is important to take steps to help you stay safe just as you would in any normal day to day activity. Before going online you should think about doing the following:

  • Only buy from a secure website, you can tell this by checking:
  • The website address begins with 'https://' (The 's' stands for 'secure')
  • The padlock symbol is displayed in the browser window . You can click on the padlock symbol to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address.

The Connect to Support Wakefield website has a https:// address and displays the padlock icon.

  • Use a strong password that isn't easy to guess, for example don't use your date of birth or street name.
  • Use a random mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Make sure that you can find the company's full contact address and telephone number on their web site so you can contact them if there is a problem
  • Only buy from companies that you feel comfortable with, ask people you know for recommendations or use brands that you are familiar with.
  • Never give out information that you feel uncomfortable about giving.
  • Avoid spam email. Spam emails are emails sent to you without consent, be particularly wary of e-mails that look like they have been sent from banks. More information about how you can reduce the amount of SPAM e-mail you are sent can be found on the Information Commissioner's Office website.
  • Be wary of pop-up message warning you about a website's security certificate, be cautious, as it may redirect to a fake website.
  • If you bank online, download software provided by your bank to help protect your computer.

Online social networking

Online social networking is a great way of keeping in touch with your friends and family or getting in touch with people who are interested in the same things as you.

However, social networking sites are sometimes used by people to take advantage of other people. If you are using social networking sites there are some things you should do to look after yourself:

  • Be aware of who can see your profile. Most social networks allow you to choose who can see your profile, but it might be quite complicated to do- ask a family member or a friend to help you with this if you are unsure.
  • Don't put lots of information about yourself on sites for example don't put your phone number, photos of where you live, your address, date of birth or full name. Don't tell people if you are going on holiday.
  • Don't say things on social networks that might upset other people.
  • If anything is said or done on line that makes you feel uncomfortable speak to someone you trust about it.
  • Don't pick user names that include personal information, don't for example include the year you were born.
  • You might want to set up a new e-mail account solely for your social networking.
  • Use a strong password, one that someone couldn't easily guess and use a random mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Be careful of people you meet on line. Don't give them any personal information and if you want to meet someone you have met on line take someone else with you and never invite someone into your home.

Protecting your computer

You might want to install the following software and features on your computer to protect your personal information:

  • Install anti-spyware software - to protect your computer from software that is often downloaded accidentally that records your online behaviour and sometimes passwords, sending them back to a watchful owner.
  • Install anti-virus software - to protect your computer from viruses that can temporarily or permanently damage your computer.

You can download free resources online or buy antivirus products; your local computer shop would be able to help you with this. Once the software is installed, keep it up to date when prompted.

  • Turn on your firewall. Most computers come with a firewall, so make sure that it's switched on
  • Ensure that the operating system is updated. The operating system is the main software programme on your computer - manages all the other programs on it.
  • If you have wireless internet make sure that you password protect access so people living near you can't use your internet, your internet provider will be able to tell you how to do this.

You can out more information about staying safe on line at the Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning site:

Help if things go wrong

If you have a particular problem resulting from internet shopping within the UK - you can contact Citizens Advice, by visiting or calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.