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Personal Information, Spam & Online Safety

The majority of people nowadays have at least one social media profile, if not more. And most social media services require a few pieces of personal information to be filled in before users can even set up their profile. Facebook asks for a mobile number or email address when registering. Twitter and Instagram also ask for similar information. It seems like a good idea when you forget your password, and Twitter texts you with the code to reset it. But make sure you protect your online safety by enabling all the privacy settings available to you.

But when signing up to social media sites, it’s useful to stop and think before whether you want that company to have access to personal information like your phone number. But what other pieces of personal information are you giving out to websites that could be used against you?  Security or verification questions will often ask for one of the following to ensure it’s definitely you using the account; phone number, name of your school or date of birth


And since we’re so used to handing out this information to social media sites, it’s important to carefully look at other websites that we hand this information to. We already give these companies plenty of information about ourselves through our profiles and status updates/tweets/hashtags, and they also have access to our contact details. It’s a similar process for ordering products from selling sites like Amazon and eBay – as your email or phone number can be used to ‘verify’ your account.

For sites or Facebook pages advertising competitions or free giveaways – they usually want something in return, demographic details like your address, interests or some kind of survey before your entry into the competition is accepted. If you share your personal information with a site that might not be legitimate, you could face problems like fraud and identity theft. Check out our guide of how to keep your personal information safe online and reduce the amount of spam emails you receive:


  • Financial information should only be shared with trusted websites like your bank or well-known shopping sites. The easiest way to spot a legitimate site, is to look for https:// at the beginning of the web address. Also check for a ‘locked’ padlock sign at the bottom of your screen. This means your data is being encrypted, and it’s safe.

  • It’s important to know that Banks won’t send emails asking the user to input their username or password. If you do receive an email, do not click any of the links included. Instead, immediately contact the bank with the details of the email.

  • Limit how many sites you allow access to your email address

  • Double check the small print when signing up for services and websites to make sure you’re not registered for excessive emails or a subscription service if you’re making a digital purchase.

  • Make use of trusted Spam filters (Look for companies such as SPAMFighter who worked with Microsoft when developing their software)


Passwords can be many users’ downfall online if they choose a simple password that’s easily guessed. Be smart when creating passwords. Be especially careful when choosing your passwords for social media accounts. If someone guesses the password and starts using your accounts without your permission, it could seriously harm your reputation online, or open up more online safety issues.

  • Use at least eight characters

  • Mix phrases, upper + lower case letters, numbers and symbols

  • Change your password regularly


Got any personal tips for online safety? Let us know on Twitter @NatOnlineSafety!

9th August 2017

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