Consumers have been offered advice about staying safe on the internet and protecting themselves from criminals.

Chief executive officer of Tony Neate explained people should give some thought to the passwords they use, as protecting their online accounts it is not as simple as they may think.

There are plenty of things to consider, including the strength of different letter and number combinations and the types of words that are used.

Mr Neate reminded individuals never to use obvious terms, such as 'password' or things that could be quickly associated with them, such as the name of their favourite football team.

Passwords should use both upper and lowercase characters, as well as a mix of numbers and keyboard symbols, he advised. Furthermore, they need to be at least seven characters long and this combination should make the words harder to guess, even if criminals are using programs that trawl through every word in the dictionary.

"In addition, never disclose your password to anyone else and don't send it by email – no reputable firm will ask you to do this," the expert continued.

All of this could help to protect people when they are online, whether it is checking their emails or bank account, or purchasing goods such as cheap ink cartridges.

Of course, these days it is not only computers people use to access the internet and Mr Neate also offered tips on how to stay safe when browsing the web on a mobile phone.

"Make sure you secure the handset with a strong password or pin; this way, if your mobile device falls into the wrong hands, your information is protected," the expert stated.

Last month, Google was condemned for changes it has made to its privacy policy, which mean anything people do across a range of its sites – such as Google+, YouTube and Gmail – is consolidated into a single profile.

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