The information in this guide was last updated on 22/10/2014

10 tips for staying safe online

If this is your first current account, and you're new to shopping and banking online, there are a few things to watch out for. We work hard to keep your account secure, but fraudsters are always looking for new ways to get hold of your money. 

Figures from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) show that card and remote banking fraud increased during the first six months of 2014. But whether you’re buying things in shops, using internet cafes or paying for things online, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your money and keep your personal details safe.

1. Keep your PIN safe

Your PIN (Personal Identification Number) is only for you to use, so don't tell it to anyone – not even your friends.


  • A PIN is made up of four numbers. You tap it in when you pay for things with your debit card in shops.
  • If anyone asks you for your PIN on the phone or by email, don't give it to them! Just hang up or delete the email.
  • Make sure no one’s looking over your shoulder when you tap in your PIN, and always cover the keypad with your other hand.

2. Smarter online shopping

When you buy things online, look for sites with a 'closed padlock' symbol in the browser's address bar, or web addresses that start 'https'.


  • The closed padlock shows that the website you're using keeps your details safe. Look for it at the top of the screen, in the browser's address bar.
  • Security is needed when you enter your bank or debit card details, or type in personal details, so check the page has a closed padlock before you do.
  • Don't agree to pay in cash or transfer money direct into a seller's bank account when buying things online – pay by debit card or use a payment service like PayPal or WorldPay.

3. Password protection

Use passcodes and passwords to keep your gadgets safe – and if they’re lost or stolen, change mobile banking passwords right away.


  • Lock your smartphone and tablet with a passcode or pattern, and don’t leave them lying around. 
  • Sometimes apps you put on your phone or tablet can ‘see’ your personal info. Check the permissions before you install.
  • Tell your mobile company immediately if your phone or tablet goes missing, and go online as soon as you can to change passwords.

4. Using cash machines

Cover your PIN when getting money out of a cashpoint, and don't use it if it's damaged.


  • Fraudsters can put tiny cameras on cash machines to read your PIN. Shield the keypad with your other hand.
  • If the cash machine looks damaged or strange in any way, use another one.
  • Is someone standing really close behind you at the cash machine? Just walk away!

5. Staying safe on the move

Don’t use public WiFi networks when buying things online or internet banking, and turn Bluetooth off.


  • Don't do your banking and online shopping using public WiFi, even if you have to enter a password.
  • If you use internet cafes or shared computers (at work or school, for example), log out of Facebook and email accounts before closing the browser.
  • Make sure no one’s looking over your shoulder when you type.

6. Spotting scam emails

Don’t click on links in suspicious emails, or open suspicious attachments.


  • Fraudsters try to steal people’s personal information using fake websites that look like the real thing. If in doubt, don’t click on email links. 
  • Another trick criminals may use is to send an email asking for your bank details. Honest companies will never do this.  
  • Banking on your smartphone? Turn Bluetooth off while you do.

7. Contactless payments

Remember to take your card out of your wallet or purse to make a contactless payment.


  • Contactless is a quick way to pay for items up to a maximum of £20, without having to enter your PIN. 
  • If you have two contactless cards in your purse or wallet, don’t just wave it over the machine or you could end up paying twice.
  • According to FFA UK figures, fraud on contactless card spending in the first six months of 2014 was very low, at just 0.007%.

8. Safer social networking

Never give anyone your personal or banking details on Twitter or Facebook, even in a private message.


  • Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know, even if you have friends in common. They may not know them either.
  • Scammers might try to guess at your online passwords. Don't use things they could know, like your mobile number, birthday or pet's name. 
  • Other details – your date of birth, address, your mum's maiden name – can be used by criminals to pretend to be you. Keep them secret.

9. Keeping gadgets secure

Put anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your PC, laptop and tablet, and use them frequently.


  • There are lots of anti-virus and anti-spyware packages available, some of them free. Run them regularly, say once a week. 
  • If your laptop or PC has firewall software, turn that on as well. 
  • Downloading an app? Check the permissions first – if you don't understand them or aren't happy with them, don't install it.

10. If in doubt...

Not sure about an email attachment or web link? Don’t click on it! 


  • Rip up or shred any paperwork that has personal or financial information on it before you dispose of it.
  • Your bank or building society will never ask you for your PIN, nor will the police. Never hand your card over to anyone who comes to 'collect' it.
  • You may be covered in the event of fraudsters using your debit card. Contact your bank or building society immediately for help and advice.

Existing customers

Worried about online security? Had any problems with your account? Give us a call on 0800 30 20 11 or visit the support section on the Nationwide site.

    Worried about online fraud? Find out more