ONE hundred and forty members of Ilkley & District U3A attended a meeting at the Clarke Foley Centre in Ilkley, to hear how to stay safe online.

Cyber-crime experts from the police and computer world gave their time and expertise to outline the problems and suggest ways of avoiding the fraudsters.

Stuart Hyde QPM, the Clarke Foley Centre chairman and former Chief Constable of Cumbria began with a presentation which showed how almost anything can be connected to the internet which makes us all vulnerable. Every time we use the internet we leave a ‘digital footprint’ - for example our personal details and interests, all of which can be used to ‘sell you stuff’.

Stuart advised: don’t click on things that sound too good; update software; use a secure password and keep it to yourself; back up your work on computer; check your bank account frequently. His parting words were the warning: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!”

Kay Bainbridge, Victim Care and Crime Prevention Officer for West Yorkshire Police, was the next to speak. She said in West Yorkshire there are between 900 and 1200 victims of fraud a month. Kay stressed that it is up to internet users to do due diligence to avoid falling victim to fraud and users are responsible for their own security on line. Kay then outlined the various types of fraud: Phishing, where fraudsters want your details to use against you; Romance fraud is a form of grooming to get your trust to defraud you; Investment fraud is making an offer that sounds too good to miss; Courier fraud has fraudsters conning you to pay out money on your doorstep; Recovery fraud is where you are persuaded to pay out more to correct an earlier fraud. The final speaker was Bevan Yates, from local company Cactus IT. He discussed practical steps to stay secure on line.

Those attending the talk came away with the message that it was important to be vigilant and report fraud to the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 2040.