Staying Safe Online with Merlin

Staying Safe Online

The Internet is an important part of life in today’s society. Social media, work, shopping and banking is now common occurrence online. So it’s important to be careful with your personal data. Scams have become more effective with their increased sophistication, so people need to be even more vigilant.

Read our non-technical and jargon free guide to understand how you can keep yourself, your family and your data safe online.

Phishing Scams

So what exactly are they?

Phishing scams can come in different forms, they can be false websites, emails, phone calls or text messages which pretend to be something they’re not.

The goal of phishing scams is to trick the targeted person in to giving information, which will give criminals access to your data. Some scams will try to put you under pressure to do something within a time frame. A few examples of such scams include a website pretending to be your bank, or an email that’s seemingly coming from a trusted source asking you to provide login details, passwords or personal information.

The Solution

A crucial part of staying safe online is being vigilant and knowing how to spot phishing scams.

Some examples of phishing scams:-

  • Any email that refers to you as your email address (for example “dear”)
  • Be wary if anyone that asks you to make a payment or log in to your account right away.
  • Look for strange spellings, often interchanging numbers and letters Th3 B4nk

Check the email or web address. If it’s from a free provider, like Gmail or Yahoo, it could be a scam. You can call your bank or the organisation you’re meant to be dealing with to confirm whether or not it’s them.

If you suspect any website, email, text message, or phone call is a phishing scam, it’s vital that you report it to Action Fraud. Reporting suspected fraud can help keep you and other more vulnerable internet users safe.

Fake Websites

Fake websites are usually the sign of a phishing scam. It’s very easy to copy websites, along with their logos. It’s important that you don’t reveal your information to any websites that you’re not confident about.

The Solution

Learning how to spot fake websites is one way you can protect yourself against this type of scam. Fake websites often look very similar to the real website they are imitating. If you find yourself asking: “is this website safe?”, then it’s probably not!

Never trust a clickable link, which directs you to a website. Always look at the address bar wording. Sometimes words are misspelt or changed, to fool you.

If you want to visit a website, always type it yourself to verify you’re going to the correct website. Also, news is a great media support, for alerting you to large-scale phishing scams.

Spend a few minutes checking the website. Have a read at their other pages, i.e. ‘About Us’. Look for poor spelling. Also look for the padlock next to website address bar, at the top of the page. This will let you know if the website is a trusted source.


Protect your computer from viruses is still important part of dealing with scams. If a virus infects your device, this can be detrimental to your device and also leave your personal data vulnerable.

The Solution

It’s important you have virus/malware protection software running on your computer. If you’re not sure what that entails, it’s worth talking to someone who can advise and help keep your computer safe. Good news is that there is free software to help with this problem.

Do not download or open anything from sources which you do not trust. If you get an email from an address you don’t know, don’t open it. It’s especially important that you don’t download any attachments from websites or email addresses you don’t recognise.

Children’s Safety Online

Keeping your child safe online can seem overwhelming, especially when they seem to know more than you do. From social media to online gaming and instant messaging, monitoring your child’s online presence can seem incredibly daunting. Children can be naive and inquisitive to various types of media online. There are a number of ways you can help keep your kids safe and one of the most notable is through internet education.

The Solution

One of the most important parts of ensuring internet safety for kids is education. The more you teach your children about online safety, the better prepared they’ll be to safely use the internet. This is really important, as your child may not always be at home, when accessing the Internet.

Depending on your child’s age and maturity, it may be appropriate to apply some parental controls. This can be done through your internet settings. Parental controls allow you to prevent your children from accessing certain websites. Your internet provider may have advice on this, so it is a good idea to get in touch with them and see what they offer. Also having the device where you can monitor what activity is happening.

General list to help educate your children:

  • Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number
  • Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once posted it’s not just yours anymore
  • Never give out your passwords
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know
  • Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online
  • Not everyone online is who they say they are
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website

Merlin Ken