Staying Safe

Although the chances of you experiencing crime are relatively low, there are things that you can do to minimise any risks.

From securing your home, to guarding your personal information online, there are plenty of hints and tips you can follow to keep yourself and your property safe.

If you’re feeling unsafe and would like help on how to maximise your safety, or would just like to talk about how you feel, talk to Voice.

Personal safety

It can be intimidating to be out and about while on your own, especially at night or around places that are unfamiliar. You can maximise your changes of staying safe by:

  • making travel plans in advance and letting your family or friends know when and where you’re going;
  • sticking to busy, well-lit areas and keeping close to a group if you feel unsafe;
  • booking a licensed taxi or cab in advance, or by hailing a black cab (Hackney Carriage) from the street – the only kind that are licenced to pick you up without a booking. NEVER accept lifts from illegal, unlicensed cabs or strangers;
  • carrying a personal safety alarm, just in case something goes wrong;
  • staying alert and aware of your surroundings – think twice about wearing headphones when you’re out alone;
  • keeping all your valuables in different places. Try to keep them in different pockets or areas of your bag; and
  • contacting the guard or the British Transport Police if you feel unsafe on public transport.

Staying safe online

Technology and the internet are part of our everyday lives. However, it’s important to keep in mind some general safety tips when you’re online to make sure you stay safe and avoid falling victim to cyber-crime.

To stay safe online, ensure you:

  • have a standard firewall and regularly updated antivirus protection on your computer. If you receive strange emails in your inbox, don’t open them – delete them straight away;
  • set-up a block or filter for any junk/spam mail in your personal or work email account;
  • change your password regularly. Have different passwords for each site you visit, and never give your password to anyone else;
  • make sure you use trusted providers when you shop online. Do your research if you’re booking a holiday over the internet to make sure the company is legitimate;
  • only use secure websites when you’re doing your online shopping or checking your bank account – look out for the padlock symbol in the search bar;
  • put an adult block on your computer that blocks unsavoury or illegal websites that might host malware or spyware. Most internet providers give you the option to activate child safety features in your internet browser to help protect your children from unsafe websites;
  • keep an eye on your children if they are using chat rooms and other internet sites. Talk to your children about internet safety or get advice from their school, which may also be running cyber-safety classes.

If you think you might be particularly vulnerable to fraud (for example, if you’ve been targeted by fraudsters before), you can apply to Cifas for protective registration, which puts in place another layer of security when you’re purchasing goods online or in store.

You can/should also contact the credit reference agencies to inform them. They will be able to provide you with assistance in reviewing your credit report to identify any spurious entries and help you to rectify any issues.

They may also give you the option to add a password onto your credit file so any lenders or retailers who attempt to review your credit report following an application or request, should request your password before proceeding, adding an extra layer of security should anybody attempt to defraud you. This is though up to the respective credit reference agency to agree with you and implement.

Credit agencies work with banks, building societies, mobile phone companies and other major retailers when assessing customer’s credit ratings. They also provide you with access to your credit score and report.

There are three major credit reference agencies in the UK; and though much of the information used is the same across the agencies, there are times the information they use can differ thereby providing you with a different credit score and report, depending on which agency you/a lender uses, so it is worth contacting all 3 to ensure none of your credit reports and scores are impacted by fraudulent activity.

The three main agencies are:

Keeping your home safe 

If you don’t feel safe within your own home it can have a huge negative impact on your life.

Top tips to protect your home include:

  • locking your doors and windows, to stop opportunist thieves;
  • keeping valuables out of sight. A thief wants to be in and out of your home as quickly as possible – don’t make it easy for them by leaving valuables in plain sight. This applies especially to car keys – modern cars are virtually impossible to break into, but keys are easy to steal.
  • not altering burglars to the fact you have gone away. If your curtains are closed for a week, burglars might guess that you’re away on holiday. If you can, ask a trusted neighbour to open and close your blinds and curtains daily, and use timers on lights, radios and TVs to make it look like someone is home;
  • thinking about extra security. This can include installing alarms, CCTV or security lights; and
  • not making it easy for burglars. Never hide keys in obvious places and make sure that any tools or ladders that could be used to break in to your house are locked safely away.