We are not encouraging you to view anything wrong on the internet or to be secretive for the sake of it. But if you are seeking information or help because someone is causing you a rough time or someone might make it embarrassing, much worse for you, or even harm you if they found out, you need to know how to cover your tracks.

While browsing the internet

Check out how to use the internet safely before you start. You might not know as much as you thought about what can go wrong.

If you are concerned that someone else may come into the room while you are visiting this website or any of the others listed on GTRT, and you don't want them to see what you are looking at, the quickest way to hide the site is usually just to close the window using the X button.

It might be a good idea to remind yourself now of the keyboard command also used to do this on your computer: Windows: 'ALT' key and 'F4', Apple Macintosh: 'Apple' key and 'W'

A lot of sites, like ChildLine,  have a "hide this screen" button on every page and give you advice on how to use their site without leaving a record of your visit. It's worth looking for it as soon as you enter a website.

You could also open another browser window and leave it open at another website, placing it behind the window you are currently using (this website). This way, if you have to quickly close the main window, you will not be left looking at a blank screen.

After visiting a website

To protect your safety and privacy you should clear your internet history regularly.

While browsing the internet, information about all the sites that you visited is stored on your computer, including what you have searched for and information you have entered on websites, like email addresses and names and personal information.

Read the following guides to find out how to delete the information from your web browser:

You may also find this video from How To Vanish useful. 

Afraid someone could read your e-mail?

E-mails on your computer on a program like Outlook can be seen by anyone else with access to the computer. If you have a web-hosted email account, such as Hotmail, Yahoo! or Google, these can only be seen by someone who logs into your account - but you can access them from any computer.

If you are still worried then delete e-mails from your Sent or Draft folders and make sure you don't keep incoming e-mails. Don't just delete them, empty your trash folder. Add a password to your account and make sure no one else knows it and it's not easy to guess. See these tips from Microsoft on picking a strong password.

Some sites like ChildLine have a private inbox or "locker" for your e-mails just to them, and others allow you to email directly on their site.

Keeping phone calls and texts private

  • Keep your phone locked and password protected and make sure no one knows your password.
  • Don't keep the numbers you dial, or at least don't store them with a name on them.
  • Delete texts from your Sent and Draft folders, empty your Deleted or Trash folders if you have them, and clear your inbox.
  • There are apps available for some smartphones which allow you to keep some call records hidden.
  •  If you are calling from a landline, or someone else is paying your phone bill, remember that they will have access to the call records, which may also be displayed on the bill.

The only certain way to stop someone following your trail is to use a computer or phone they can't get at.

So, if you're not sure you can do the things suggested here, ask someone you can trust if you can use their phone or computer, use a public phone box or a computer in a public place like a library. See how and where to get online for suggestions.

What do the people you contact know about you?

Many helplines and online help is anonymous and you don't even need to give your name. If you take part in things like online chat or message boards you will use a screen name to hide your identity and if you choose anything which might give away your real identity, it won't be allowed.

What do they do with your information if they have it?

Usually they won't keep or share your details unless they consider you are in danger and need urgent help, for instance if you are being abused. This should be made clear on the website before you get in touch with them.

A good example is where ChildLine explains what they mean about confidentiality"Confidentiality means not telling anyone else about what you’ve said.  It means that you can feel safe talking to us about something that is happening to you, or how you feel about something, knowing that no one else will find out."


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The page was last updated on 10 July 2017 by andrea.bateman.

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