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Keeping Safe Online
It’s important that if you’re using the internet, you know how to stay safe. You should never give out any personal information when you're online, no matter who you think you're talking to. This information applies to all users, including children.
Staying Safe in Chatrooms
To stay safe, make sure that when you're using a chat room or posting on a message board, you never give out any personal information like your address or your phone number. You should always use a nickname, so no-one can look you up in a telephone directory and get your home phone number.
It's usually not a good idea to arrange to meet up with someone that you've been chatting to online. Remember that you can never be sure that they're telling the truth about their age or their interests and you could be putting yourself in danger.
If you do want to meet up with someone you've met online, make sure that you discuss it with your parents beforehand. If they do agree, make sure that you arrange a meeting in a public place and that you take an adult with you.
There are some important things that you need to keep in mind when you're on your computer at home or at school:
- Never give out identifying information such as, name, address, school name or telephone numbers in a public message such as a chat room or a bulletin board
- Never send a person a picture without first checking with your parent or guardian
- Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, threatening, obscene or generally make you feel uncomfortable
- Get to know your 'online friends' just as you get to know all of your other friends
- Never arrange a face to face meeting without telling your parent or guardian. If your parent or guardian agrees to the meeting, make sure you meet in a public place and have a parent or guardian with you
- Be careful when someone offers you something for nothing, such as gifts and money, be very careful about any offers that involve you coming to a meeting or having someone visit your house
- Be sure that you are dealing with someone that your parents know and trust before giving out any personal information about yourself via e-mail.
- Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the person it would be easy for someone to misrepresent him or herself. Therefore someone indicating that 'she' is a '12 year old girl' could be an older man
- Tell your parent or guardian right away if you come across any information that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Shop Safely Online
Many people are still reluctant to shop on the internet because they believe that their bank details are not safe. Luckily, shopping on the web is now just as safe as ordering goods over the telephone, as long as you follow a few common sense rules.
Make sure that if you do order goods over the internet, the company that you're buying from uses a secure shopping server. You'll know if it is a secure site if a padlock icon appears at the bottom of your browser window, or the web address begins with 'https:'.
If it's a company that you've never heard of before, search their site for any contact numbers and postal addresses. If they're a respectable company, they won't mind you giving them a quick call to ask them a few questions.
Also, make sure that you never send your bank details to anyone in an email. Legitimate banks and online stores will never ask you to do this as it is not a secure way of sending information.
If you do receive an official-looking email that asks you to send your financial details, you should never reply as you could become a victim of identity fraud.
For more information see our Identity Theft section or visit the Get Safe Online Website.
Page last reviewed: 06 August 2021
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