We’ve all heard how every dog has its day, well, it feels like there’s pretty much a day for everything. One that might not be on your radar is ‘Data Protection Day’ on the 28 January. Ok – we’ll admit, it doesn’t sound like a day filled with fun and hilarities and there isn’t even anything good on the menu – like there is on Pancake Day. But it does have its use – like making us think for a bit about how we can all protect ourselves and our privacy from prying eyes.

So, what exactly happens on Data Protection Day – should we all put our computers on lockdown and stay at home with the doors bolted and the curtains drawn? Well, it’s not quite as drastic as that. It’s simply about making us aware of our right to privacy when it comes to personal information; as well as highlighting what we all know (but don’t always practice) about keeping our data secure.

Data Protection Day isn’t just in the UK and Europe, it’s actually celebrated all around the world by the more generic name of ‘Privacy Day’. It may sound a bit OTT to have a whole day just about information but we forget just how big the concept of ‘data’ really is.

If you think about it, information about us as individuals, is everywhere. From our medical and dental records, to our banking details, even our online browser history is there for anyone who’s interested to see. Plus, let’s not forget all the information held by our insurance providers about our cars, our pets and of course – our homes

If a stranger were to get hold of every single piece of data that exists about you, then without even meeting you, they could paint an accurate picture of who you are and your habits and perhaps use this to gain something from you – namely your money.

So, it’s worth taking time out just to understand what our rights are when it comes to our data – and how to look after it. There’s a strict set of guidelines about how data is stored and used; and by law, it has to be:

• Accurate
• Used fairly and lawfully
• Used for a particular and specified reason
• Used in a way that is appropriate, adequate and not excessive
• Kept for no longer than necessary
• Kept safe and secure
• Kept within the European Economic Area and cannot be transferred without adequate protection

But that’s just the first tier of information and anything particularly personal (like your beliefs or whether you have a criminal record), has even stricter guidelines on storage and use.

This is all well and good but what can we do on a day to day basis to stop our personal information from falling into the wrong hands? To be honest, you’ve probably heard it all before; but that won’t stop the criminals getting their hands on £18 million – that was the figure expected to be stolen from UK bank accounts over the two biggest shopping days – Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016 It’s a staggering number but anyone who shops online could become a victim of cybercrime

There is of course, one area that makes lots of people nervous and that’s online banking. But it doesn’t have to be that way, online banking is a convenient, simple and fast way of managing your money, and means you’ll always be up to date on your finances. But if the thought of moving money around using the power of the internet makes you break out into a cold sweat, then read our ‘Simples guide to online banking’. Trust us; it’s more interesting than it sounds and it’ll help you get started with good habits (and might even help you break a few old, bad ones).

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