Cyber crime

Cyber crime is the term used to describe crimes committed online – through computers, laptops, game consoles, tablets and smartphones.

There are many different types of cyber crime, including online fraud, phishing, cyber bullying, revenge porn and sexual grooming.

Being a victim of cyber crime can leave you feeling very vulnerable – you may feel embarrassed and ashamed that you have fallen victim, have difficulty trusting people as a result or feel angry about what has happened.

You don’t have to go through this experience on your own. We are here to provide emotional support, guidance and practical help.

We cannot financially compensate you if you have been defrauded online, but we can support you in dealing with other organisations like insurance companies and banks, for example, and put you in touch with specialist organisations like Action Fraud.

We can work with you to support you in dealing with your feelings, learning how to keep yourself safe in future and getting your life back on track.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t reported the crime to the police but if you would like to, we can help with that too.

Whether you have been affected recently or in the past, we are here – to talk, to listen, for advice, for help.

All of our services are free and confidential, please get in touch.

How can I protect myself?

Lancashire Constabulary has put together the following hints and tips to stop you becoming a victim…

… of fraud:

  • Do not open emails or click on attachments sent from unknown sources.
  • Your bank or card issuer will never contact you via email asking you to input all your personal and financial details online. If you receive an email like this, report it to your bank and then delete it.
  • Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
  • If you encounter messages from anti-virus software while on the internet, do not follow them – only follow anti-virus instructions from the software installed on your machine.
  • Ensure that your software is up-to-date.

…on social media

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter contain a huge amount of personal information.

Anyone you accept as a friend, follower or associate may be able to find out:

  • Your address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your place of work
  • Your school or college
  • Your children’s school or college
  • What your children look like
  • The names and details of other family members
  • When you are going holiday
  • Where you usually go to socialise
  • What route you take if you go walking or running

Before you accept anyone, make sure you know them and would be happy with them accessing all that information.

If you have children who play games online, Get Safe Online has useful hints and tips on how to keep them safe.

…of cyber bullying

  • If you’re a young person, speak to an adult about what is going on, ideally a parent or teacher
  • You can block people who harass or abuse you
  • Social networks have policies about dealing with inappropriate messages – if you are receiving them, take a screenshot and refer the issue directly to the network or website concerned.
  • Learn how to use security settings to restrict access to your social media profiles to just family and friends you trust.

…of phishing

Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details or to steal money by making contact which appears to be official and trustworthy via email, pop-up message, phone call or text message.

To protect yourself:

  • Don’t open attachments or click on links within any unsolicited emails you receive, and never respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial details. Remember, you can hover over a link to see where it will take you.
  • An email address can be mimicked or hacked – if you receive an email from a person or company you know, but which appears to be suspicious, make contact with the sender directly via another method of communication to confirm they sent the email.
  • If you receive an email which asks you to log on to an online account because of an issue such as suspicious activity, do not follow the link contained in the email. Instead, go separately to the website yourself.

…of sexting and revenge porn

If you take a picture of yourself – whether sexual or not – and send it electronically to another person, you must be prepared for the risk it will end up in the public domain.

Even if you trust the person you send it to, that may not be in your control because:

  • Your phone/device with the image on may get lost or stolen
  • Your friend’s phone/device may be lost or stolen with the image on it.
  • Your devices may have malicious software on them which steals the images
  • The service you use to send the images may be hacked, and the images stolen
  • You may fall out with the person you sent them to, and they may distribute them to others

Remember: Taking, sharing or possessing an indecent photo of anyone under-18, even if you are the person in the picture or the same age as them, is a criminal offence.

If there is an indecent image of you on a website:

  • You can try and contact the website and ask them to remove it – there is normally a “contact” button at the bottom of a website’s main page.
  • If you believe someone has shared or published sexual images of you without your consent contact 101 to inform police.
  • “Revenge porn” – where someone shares private, sexual materials, with the intention of causing embarrassment or distress – is also now a criminal offence, and offenders can be fined and receive up to two years in prison.