Cyber-blackmail: How to keep safe and deal with it

By Emma Brant and Amelia Butterly
Newsbeat reporters

Image source, SPL

Hundreds of British children are being blackmailed into performing sex acts online, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has warned.

Abusers talk victims into sexual acts or sharing images, then threaten to send pictures to family and friends.

Ceop said in 12 cases over two years, 424 children had been blackmailed in this way - 184 of them in the UK.

Daniel Perry, who died aged 17, is thought to have been blackmailed with online footage before his death.

The teenager is thought to have believed he was chatting with an American girl but was told by blackmailers the conversations had been recorded.

Image source, Other
Image caption,
Daniel Perry is thought to have been blackmailed with footage of himself

They then threatened to share the video with friends and family unless he paid money.

Daniel Perry, from Dunfermline in Fife, died on 15 July.

What is cyber-blackmail?

Cyber-blackmail is the act of threatening to share information about a person to the public, their friends or family, unless a demand is met or money is paid.

Safety tips on how to avoid being blackmailed online

  • Do not send any form of sexual picture. You never know where it may end up, even if you think you know the person really well.
  • If you're being blackmailed or threatened tell someone you trust. It doesn't matter how embarrassing it is or if you've done something you wished you hadn't.
  • Collect the evidence.
  • Keep the threatening emails and take a screenshot.
  • Report cyber-blackmail to the police.

Other tips for staying safe online

  • Don't post personal information online, like your address, your email address or mobile number. Keep personal information as general as possible.
  • Never let anyone have access to your passwords. Check the privacy settings on accounts like Facebook/Twitter and make sure you know how to keep your personal information private.
  • Change passwords regularly.
  • Think very carefully before posting photos of yourself online. Once your picture is online, anyone can download it and share it or even change it.
  • Never respond or retaliate to negative posts.
  • Block any users that send you nasty messages on social media sites.
  • Never reveal your real name, your friends' names, where you go to school or your place of work.
  • Don't open emails, downloads or attachments from people you don't know or trust as they could contain a computer virus or unwanted messages.
  • Block spam emails and delete them.

Tips for staying safe on your phone

  • Try not to have your mobile or earphones on show, except when you're using it.
  • When you're chatting be aware of what and who is around you.
  • Even if you're in a group, stick to well-lit areas.
  • Use codes or passwords to lock your phone.
  • Download apps that can locate your phone and/or wipe data.
  • Turn off the ringer/enable vibrate.
  • Don't walk and text.
  • Record the phone's unique IMEI number.
  • Register your handset on the National Mobile Phone Register.

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