Skype & Internet Calls
Voice over IP (VoIP) or internet telephony services are very inexpensive and convenient. They use Internet Protocol (IP) to transmit calls – in other words using your internet connection.
There are now a number of different services:
- Basic, where you simply plug a standard phone handset, headset or microphone and speakers into your VoIP-configured wireless hub to make low-cost internet calls.
- Managed, where a company provides you with a local telephone number and you can receive as well as make calls.
- Skype, which also enables users to invite and form contacts, create profiles, make video calls and share files.
- You can also make audio and video calls over WhatsApp, where the data is encrypted and therefore private (unless your device is infected with various types of malware).
As is the case with other internet-based services, you need to take care with how you use VoIP.
- There is a slight risk of eavesdropping because VoIP works over public internet connections. However, the risk is lower than that of using a conventional landline, which can be easily snooped on.
- If you are using VoIP for making calls between three or more people where the dialup and access details are pre-arranged, anybody who can access these details (for example by seeing the email) can also gain access to your call.
- Fraudsters can request that you be their Skype contact in order to:
- Call or instant message you to perpetrate a scam or fraud, normally by getting you to visit a fraudulent website or download a malicious file containing a virus or spyware.
- Access personal details on your profile and use them dishonestly.
- Share files or direct you to websites containing inappropriate or offensive content.
Safe Use of VoIP / Skype
- If accessing your VoIP service requires you to use a password, ensure you use strong passwords, and do not disclose them to anyone else.
- If your service includes a public profile, don’t put any sensitive, private or confidential information in it.
- When using Skype, be wary about whom you accept contact requests from. Set up your service to allow connections only from people you know.
- Quickly block nuisance and fraudulent users from further contact with you and also report them for abuse.
- If you think that you have been persuaded by anyone to part with payment details, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
- Check regularly with your VoIP website for updates or patches.
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running, and an internet security app on your mobile devices.
- Always log out of your VoIP service when you have finished your call. Simply closing your browser may not automatically finish your session.
- Be aware that VoIP use depends on having mains power. If there is a power cut or other problem with the equipment, you will not be able to make calls, including emergency calls. If accessing your VoIP service requires you to use a password, ensure you use strong passwords, and do not disclose them to anyone else.
More information from Skype on managing your privacy settings
Skype's guide to managing your privacy settings on your Windows computer
Skype's guide to managing your privacy settings on your Mac
If using the Skype app, select 'Settings' to find, review and modify your privacy settings