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Don't get caught out like Corrie's Gail!

29th January 2013 Print

Coronation Street conman Lewis Archer's £40,000 internet banking scam could have been foiled if Gail McIntyre had been more security savvy, according to, the Payments Council's consumer education campaign.

In a storyline broadcast on Wednesday 30 January and Friday 1 February, conman Lewis secretly prints off Gail's bank details from her computer before blackmailing her daughter, Kylie, into revealing her mum's log-in and password. Lewis then uses this information to withdraw £40,000 from Gail's account.

Yet Gail isn't alone in failing to keep her online banking details safe. A Pay Your Way survey revealed that one in three people admit sharing online login details with someone else. Even more people - three out of every four - break another of the golden rules of password protection by using the same password for more than one online account.

In reality, consumers benefit from strong legal protection against online banking fraud. Innocent victims of internet banking fraud can expect to be reimbursed as long as they have taken reasonable steps to keep their account safe. Gail's story provides a cautionary reminder of how important this is.

It would have been possible for Gail to avoid her fate by following some simple security advice: don't tell anyone else your password(s), and if you need to write it down, disguise it in a way only you understand. The age of Facebook and Twitter also means more of our lives than ever are public knowledge, so it's always worth asking yourself ‘could anyone else know this answer?' if you use any personal details as responses to security questions.

The seven golden rules for online security are:

1. Be unique - For really important accounts like online banking or email, make sure that you never use the same password, or even a variation of that original password more than once. That way, if the password is compromised, the damage is restricted.

2. Change it - if you've been using the same passwords for years, it's definitely time to update them.

3. Cheat! - You could use a password manager to manage all your passwords. This is a piece of software that creates random, hard-to-guess passwords for each site you visit - meaning you only need to remember one single, master password to access them all. Use the tips below to make your master password difficult to guess but easy to remember.  

4. Be discreet - don't tell anyone else your password(s). And if you need to write it down, disguise it. Also, think about any personal details that you use as responses to security questions. Social networking means more of our lives than ever are public knowledge - it's always worth asking yourself ‘could anyone else know this answer?'

5. Be suspicious - Update you anti-virus software regularly and don't respond to unsolicited emails, text messages or calls that ask you for your security details - it could be a criminal trying to get hold of your passwords.

6. Mix it up - use a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. This vastly increases the difficulty of guessing or cracking your password.

7. Be creative - Avoid names, birthdays or common words. A good way to create a long, easy to remember password is to string together the first letters of a song lyric, phrase, or even better, a sentence known only to you. For example, ‘The Grand Old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men' could give a password of ‘TGODoYhh10000m!'

Commenting for Pay Your Way, Adrian Kamellard, Chief Executive of the Payments Council said: "Internet banking is a really quick, convenient way to manage your money and millions of people use it safely every day. Innocent fraud victims get excellent legal protection but Gail's story is a reminder of how important it is to keep your security details secure."

For more information on password security, visit, or