Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Stop what you’re doing for a minute and think about how much time you spend online each day. A couple of hours? Maybe more? Whatever time you just thought of, we’re betting it’s probably even more than that, because between all the fun online activities like online shopping and social media, as well as practical stuff like online utility and fitness management services – it’s almost impossible to get through a day without the internet.
With people spending more time than ever online, it’s important to stay safe. This month is computer safety month, so we thought we’d share with you a few tips and tricks on how to stay secure online.
Remember that the internet is a public place – whatever you put out there, whether it’s on social media, in a forum or on a review site, is generally then public information. It’s great to have a platform that allows access to so much information and gives you the ability to share thoughts, views and opinions, but think before you type. Barely a month goes past without some famous person or other being berated for something they said online last week or last year, because it’s easy to think that there are no consequences to anything posted online - but that’s not the case.
Following nicely on from the above…if you’re active on social media and frequently putting content out there for people, it’s a good idea to check your privacy settings. These settings range from one extreme to the other; you can lock your accounts down so that only you can see them or just your friends/followers but on the other end of the scale you can have them open and searchable to everyone – even people you don’t know. It’s completely your choice, and your channels are your space so if you’re happy for them to remain public then great, but it’s a good idea to check your settings, just to make sure you’re comfortable with how they’re all set up.
If you seem to have a million and one different online accounts for all aspects of your life (us too) don’t use the same password for all of them. Yes, it’s annoying to have to remember different passwords for different sites and yes, password standards seem to be getting more complicated – but it’s important. Having multiple sites with the same password puts you at a higher risk should any of your online accounts get hacked – and it does happen, even if you think it won’t happen to you. Have multiple passwords and change them up every couple of months, they don’t have to be super complicated, just think of things that are memorable for you and add some characters and numbers.
Check your information is correct on all your online accounts. If you’re a student or renting there’s a chance you might change address a few times within a fairly short time span and it can be difficult to remember where you have/haven’t updated your information. Frequently, people can find that they’ve got 3 or 4 different addresses associated to them online, and that’s not including email addresses or phone numbers that might be out of date. More often than not, companies will use this information to keep you updated (if you’ve consented to this), and you don’t want to miss out on important updates because your details are wrong. Take a bit of time to clear up your account information and you’ll feel better for it.
And finally – just because we love a bit of frugality – remember that the money you’re spending online is real. The pull of the buy-it-now button, particularly when your payment details are stored in your account, and the fact that you don’t see money change hands can make it very tempting to throw caution to the wind and go on a spending spree. It might feel great at the time but chances are you’ll regret this when looking at your bank balance a bit later in the month. If you can, try to bookmark or save items you like before you buy them – if you keep revisiting them then maybe they’re worth it, but if you don’t – you’ve saved yourself some money.
None of this is rocket science, but it’s all worth remembering. So what did we miss? Have you got any tips?