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Don’t be an April Fool!

April Fools jokes are meant to be fun, but it's easy to be fooled by fraudsters into downloading spyware, viruses and other types of malware ... any day of the year. The consequences, unfortunately, are anything but amusing.

For information and advice on identifying and avoiding viruses and spyware, click here

So Get Safe Online - together with the City of London Police - is using April Fool’s Day to highlight the real threat from cyber criminals who try to trick you by targeting your computer, smartphone or tablet for online fraud and identity theft.

This is City of London Police dog Dexter, who is especially trained to sniff out danger and obligingly took part in a special April Fool's Day photoshoot. Unfortunately he can't sniff out the presence of malware, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your computer or mobile device.

Once this type of program accesses your computer, smartphone or tablet, it can systematically steal personal information which is then used for criminal purposes. Fraud is one of the main risks to guard against when going online and is currently estimated to cost £765 for every adult in the UK! However, fraudsters can operate only if those they target have not actively taken care to guard against the threat.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online says: “Criminals are developing more sophisticated ways to exploit us online and it’s essential to take sensible measures to protect your computer.  Online activities that seem completely harmless, such as searching the internet, downloading, playing games and even using email could result in your computer being infected with viruses and spyware if you haven’t taken steps to safeguard your computer.” 

T/Det Chief Superintendent Oliver Shaw of the City of London Police says: “Working in conjunction with Get Safe Online, we want to get the message across that malware and spyware which infect your computer can cause very serious consequences.  Unfortunately, it’s not just your computer which could be infected by malware – your smartphone or tablet could be susceptible too.”

To find out how you can protect yourself online, have a look around this website. We're the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety, and this website is packed with practical advice on how to protect yourself, your computers, mobile devices and your business against fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other problems encountered online. 

And if you believe you may have been a victim of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. Use their online fraud reporting tool here, or call their specialist fraud advisers on 0300 123 2040.