We all rely on e-mail as a quick and easy way to communicate, however, you should be aware that e-mail can also be used to perpetrate fraud.
Phishing e-mails are scam e-mails that may appear to be from a well-known company such as Scottish Widows but they contain links to fraudulent websites where you will be asked to enter personal information. You should not click on these links, as this alone can infect your computer with malware designed to infiltrate or damage it. If you enter your personal details, this information will be received by the fraudsters and you become at risk of identity fraud.
No financial organisation should ask you for sensitive information by e-mail. If you have a policy with Scottish Widows, you will never be asked to enter your personal details by e-mail, or via a link to the Scottish Widows website. Scottish Widows e-mails will always address you by name, and quote your policy number.
Scottish Widows cannot prevent fraudsters from sending phishing e-mails, but can arrange for the fake website to be closed down. If you receive any suspicious e-mails from Scottish Widows, please forward them to email@example.com to investigate.
Look out for the following indicators of a phishing e-mail
- Phishing e-mails typically ask for personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers or bank details
- Your name will generally not be included, it will usually be addressed 'Dear customer' or something similar.
- Does the letter make sense? Are the grammar and spelling correct? Poor English can indicate fraud.
- There will be a sense of urgency – for example, if you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed.
How to protect yourself from phishing e-mails
- Do not click on the links within the e-mail, or visit any websites within it.
- Install an e-mail spam filter which allows you to preview (and delete) e-mails.
- Sometimes scam e-mails can install viruses on your computer – make sure you have updated anti-virus software, and a firewall in place.
- Only open attachments that you were expecting, sent by people you know and trust. Attachments can contain viruses.
- Don’t e-mail sensitive information.
- Never disclose your passwords. A good password is a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and should be changed regularly.