Monday, 19 February 2018
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February 2018

Staying Cyber Safe

February 6 is Safer Internet Day and the Police Service of Northern Ireland has some really useful advice for parents and young people about staying safe online...

“We want everyone to stay safe online and think carefully about online interactions with others,” said Superintendent Simon Walls. “For parents worried about their children using the internet, our advice is to become net-savvy. The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed. Learn the basics of the internet and find out more about social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – read articles, take a class and talk to other parents. You don’t have to be an expert to have a handle on your child’s online world.

“But the most important thing is to have conversations with your children – talk to them about the benefits and dangers of the internet and social media –so that you can empower them to use both safely. Get to know what they’re interested in online and keep an eye on what they are doing. Find out what their favourite websites or social media platforms are and what online games they play.

“Don't be afraid to ask your children who they are talking to either online or on social media and what they are talking about. Remind them how important it is to tell a trusted adult if something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried.”

Here are some top tips to help keep you and your family safe:

1.Don’t share personal information or images with people who you don’t know.

2.Don’t accept a friend request from someone you don’t know – not everyone online is who they say they are.

3.Set privacy settings on all devices so that only people you know can view your account.

4.Don’t post anything online that you are not happy to be shared, particularly nude or nearly nude images or videos. It may seem like a bit of fun with friends at the time but there is always a chance those images could be shared or get into the wrong hands and could lead to harmful situations such as stalking, abuse or blackmail.

5.If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or you have had disturbing interaction online, tell police or a trusted adult. You can ring the police on 101 or for help and advice ring Childline on 0800 1111 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

6. If you receive any inappropriate images or links, it is important that you do not forward it to anyone else. Contact police or tell a trusted adult immediately. By doing this you could help prevent further such incidents.

7.Go to for lots of useful advice and information on how to stay safe online.

“It’s not just young people who need to be careful online,” added Superintendent Walls. “The threat of fraud, both online and offline against the public is a constant focus for the PSNI. Scammers and fraudsters are inventive, and the schemes they use are varied, but the aim remains the same – to take money from unsuspecting members of the public. The ScamwiseNI campaign, supported by Policing Board and Department of Justice, aims to show the public that we all need to be vigilant of any contact from an unsolicited source, whether that is from doorstep callers, telephone, mail or online. Education is our best weapon, preventing people from becoming victims.”

What should you do if you’ve received a scam email?

•Do not click on any links in the scam email.

•Do not reply to the email or contact the senders in any way.

•If you have clicked on a link in the email, do not supply any information on the website that may open.

•Do not open any attachments that arrive with the email.

•If you think you may have compromised the safety of your bank details and/or have lost money due to fraudulent misuse of your cards, you should immediately contact your bank.

•If you've been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud.

Fake emails often (but not always) display some of the following characteristics:

•The sender’s email address doesn’t tally with the trusted organisation’s website address.

•The email is sent from a completely different address or a free web mail address.

•The email does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like “dear customer”.

•A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed.

•A prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address, but even a single character’s difference means a different website.

•A request for personal information such as user name, password or bank details.

•The email contains spelling and grammatical errors.

If you want to report a scam, contact Action Fraud on Tel: 0300 123 20 40 or visit

For details of current scams and how to avoid becoming victim of a scam go to the Scamwise NI internet site at

Image caption - Caption: Superintendent Simon Walls, Erica Murray, an advocate for the initiative, Anne Connolly, Chair of Northern Ireland Policing Board and Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris, at the launch of ScamwiseNI initiative.

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