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Guidelines to your security on the internet

We at MusicTeachers.co.uk greatly value your membership with us. We want our service to bring you the greatest possible benefit. For that to be the case, there are a number of issues that we urge you to take seriously. If you follow a few simple rules, you will easily avoid some of the pitfalls that can spoil what should be a rewarding experience.


1. DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS ONLINE.

Why? Because you will become an open target for spam and abuse. All those who use the internet will receive, at some time or other, nuisance emails that offer illegitimate or unwanted services, attempt to solicit sensitive information or engage in fraudulent transactions. If you do publish your email address on the internet, you are certain to attract a significant level of undesirable spam. MusicTeachers.co.uk receives a very high volume of internet traffic. As a consequence the information held on its pages achieves immediate relevance on the major search engines. This is what makes our service effective. Make our strengths work for you and not against you!

Please note: Some members insist on including an email address in their accounts against our advice, usually in their ‘Notes’ or ‘Biography’. Whilst we do not censor such inclusions, we certainly do not condone them.

Will MusicTeachers.co.uk ever reveal my email address to others?

NO. NEVER. We never pass on any of your unpublished information to any third party and have never done so. We manage our database strictly in accordance with the Data Protection Act of 1998. Only genuine account holders have access to their account data. See our Privacy Policy here.

We believe that the spoken word is by far the best first step in establishing a good working relationship between prospective pupil and teacher. Parents should, rightly, be extremely wary of anyone who will only communicate via the anonymity of email correspondence. Please remember that attempted fraud by email is unbelievably common, cheap for the criminal and difficult to police. Similar abuse by telephone is rare, expensive for the criminal and easy to police.

2. MONEY UP FRONT!? IF IN DOUBT, SAY NO.

The most common attempt to defraud a teacher on the internet involves the prospective pupil or guardian offering a large upfront payment. You can read about the many different forms of the advance fee scam here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud.

Use your common sense – if the arrangement proposed seems peculiar, then it is! Parents, for example, pay for a child’s music lesson either against your invoice (per month or term) sometimes in advance, given mutual agreement or, or more commonly, in retrospect. Many parents prefer to settle at each lesson by cash or cheque for the agreed sum. This is a matter of well-known routine. Do not deviate from it!

3. THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU REVEAL YOUR BANK DETAILS AND NEVER GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS TO A COLD CALLER EVEN IF THEY CLAIM TO REPRESENT MUSICTEACHERS.CO.UK OR WORLDPAY.

Fraudsters impersonate banking correspondence as a matter of grim routine. Every day there are new attempts to impersonate the major high street banks and commercial services from the Halifax to Google Adwords.

We use WorldPay to handle our merchant accounting and it is perfectly secure. There are only two occasions that you will be asked to enter credit card details.

1. When you purchase a special service from us (e.g. Premium Membership).
2. When your credit card expires and you need to update those details – this is relevant if the service you have purchased from us renews annually. When you do this, you login through the WorldPay website (http://www.worldpay.com/shopper/) using your username and password.

Do not reveal your WorldPay username and password to anyone. We do not have access to them, but can request that new login details be sent to you if you have forgotten them.

WorldPay will inform you of the creation, cancellation and failure of payment accounts. If you have any concern about the legitimacy of such correspondence, do please contact us to check.

4. PREMIUM RATE NUMBERS

If, during correspondance about lessons, any individual suggests that you make contact using a Premium number, please report this to us and do not phone them. Premium numbers to watch out for begin: 090, 091, 0908, 0909, 098x, 070 or 076 (except 07624, which are Isle of Man mobiles).

5. SPAM

You should not receive spam as a consequence of your membership of MusicTeachers.co.uk. We keep you informed of important developments connected with our service, but we know to respect your inbox and keep our communications to the minimum. As above, we do not release email addresses to any third party.

If you have not published your email address (see above) on our service and nevertheless still receive spam that you believe is a consequence of membership with us, please let us know. We keep detailed email logs of all our @musicteachers.co.uk addresses and can quickly identify if there is a problem and take appropriate steps.

There is no need to suffer this inconvenience! Spam is not part of our service!

6. GENERAL SECURITY

There is a huge amount that you can do to protect yourself online. We make no attempt to be exhaustive, but nobody who uses the internet should neglect the following:

i. NEVER USE UNSECURED WIRELESS ACCESS

You may have just purchased wireless broadband at home and have just not got round to setting up the passwords or perhaps you like the idea of using your neighbour’s unsecured connection that your computer conveniently receives. Do not do either of these things. Unsecured is exactly what it means. You have no way of stopping others, including your neighbour (or whoever else is also exploiting their connection) from intercepting your data and using it to their advantage. Access to your internet connection is access to your computer.

There are other things that you should do, if you want to take this issue seriously. You can look these up on the internet or check with your ISP or modem supplier.

1. Secure your wireless router or access point administration interface
2. Don't broadcast your SSID
3. Use encryption (WPA is better than WEP but anything is better than nothing!)
4. Use MAC filtering for access control
5. Disable remote administration for your modem

ii. INSTALL REPUTABLE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

When you have done this keep it updated. Many packages offer specific support with internet security (i.e. keeping passwords safe, protecting bank and credit card information, scanning emails and warning of suspicious internet sites).

iii. IGNORE LINKS IN EMAILS / DO NOT TOUCH ATTACHMENTS

Unless you are 100% certain about an email (i.e. you were expecting it and know who it is from), you should never click on a hyperlink in an email and you should never open any attachments.

iv. AVOID DISREPUTABLE WEBSITES

If you visit websites that offer prescription drugs, free pornography, passwords, hacking tools and any other illegal material, in short, anything that belongs to the unregulated, internet underworld, you are asking for trouble. Unless you have the highest internet security settings on your browser (in which case a lot of very useful and reputable services will not work so well) you will be vulnerable to electronic attack. You really can get a virus from exploring a dodgy website. Don’t do it!