We all use the internet in one way or another, it’s a huge part of life in 2021 and the use of it is certainly not going away.

Unfortunately, there are individuals and even so-called ‘companies’, out there that aim to take advantage of people online. So just how do you stay safe online?

Firstly, Ensure your Passwords are Secure

The easiest way to stay safe online is to ensure that the passwords that you use are secure.

Avoid using ‘simple’ passwords such as ‘1234’ or ‘hello’ – most online systems will require a password that is between 6 and 10 characters long and contain the use of capital letters, number/s, and special characters such as ‘!’. Follow the advice given when setting up your online account.

Try not to use the same password for everything, especially those accounts that are particularly sensitive such as your online banking account. Keep them unique and secure.

There is a delicate balance between ensuring that you have a secure password and ensuring that it's memorable. Only you will be able to know where you sit on that delicate balancing act.

Keep an Eye out for Scams

The most common scams are those that come in the form of emails.

I am sure we have all heard or seen the emails from ‘Nigerian Princes’ who want to confess their love to you, or even emails from a bank you have never banked with telling you that ‘urgent action is needed to keep your funds’.

Unfortunately, it's very easy to set up a fake email template posing as another company. Copying and pasting a legit email and simply changing the content to encourage someone to click on a link and supply the scammer with the information that you need.

Keeping your wits about you and applying a bit of common sense is needed. If you receive an email you are unsure about then firstly consider what the email is asking for.

  • If the email is from a bank then remind yourself that your bank would never ask you to confirm personal information via email. If it’s a bank that you don’t have an account with then remind yourself that the bank in question would have no reason to ask you for the personal information it's requesting.
  • If the email is from your phone company then remind yourself that your phone company would never ask you to confirm personal information via an email. If it’s a phone company that you don’t currently use then they would have no reason to ask for your personal information.
  • If the email is from a parcel courier company then remind yourself that the only emails a legit courier would send you would be emails that let you know that your parcel is going to be delivered (or redelivered) on x date. They would not ask you for money when their services have already been paid for by you when you purchased an item or directly from the company/individual who is sending you an item.


If you are unsure about whether an email is legit then treat it as if it is a scam. If an email is legit then the individual/company trying to contact you will try again via a different channel to reach you.

Another option if you recognise the name of the company trying to contact you via email is to contact them directly to confirm what is being asked using the information found on their website, brochures, or even on your receipts.

Fake Websites

Scammers are sophisticated and have moved onto bigger and better things.  An increasingly popular method of taking advantage of people online is now through the use of fake websites.

Websites will be copied and rebuilt on similar-looking domains, making them look like the official website whilst their only intention is to farm data and take payments for things that they have no plans to fulfil.

A fake website that hit the news recently is the ones that have copied the UK Government website and ‘sell’ Covid vaccines - taking payment from individuals who wrongly believe that you have to pay to receive the vaccine. This flurry of fake Covid vaccine websites has led the UK Government to run a huge campaign across every format to state that individuals do not need to pay for their vaccine and that the UK Government would never ask for payment.

How do you protect yourself from these fake websites? Look closely at the website and its URL.

If you are shopping on Amazon then ensure that the URL is https://www.amazon.co.uk (or.com).

Be careful when you are directed to websites – if you receive an email instructing you to go to x link to Santander’s website then ensure firstly that it is Santander emailing you, and that the URL when you head to Santander’s website is https://www.santander.co.uk/.

Look out for misspellings within the URL such as www.amazzon.co.uk or www.amaz0n.co.uk.

The two examples of misspelt URLs used above for Amazon do take individuals to the real Amazon website. Many companies, including Amazon, have actually brought up these misspelt URLs and redirect them to their actual URL. Doing so helps keep their customers from being duped into shopping on fake Amazon sites and helps to stop fake Amazon sites from being created by scammers.

Browsers such as Chrome are introducing imposter tools built into their browsers to help you spot these websites. You can read more about how Chrome is handling imposter websites in a recent Digital Nachos blog post here.

And lastly, protect yourself by Educating Yourself

To keep yourself safe online there are many other things you can do, educate yourself and you will thank yourself later.

There are many guides out there which are designed to help. They include…

Combining this information with your own common sense will help protect you online.

Published: 9th Feb 2021

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