During this uncertain time, there’s been a widespread increase in the number of fraudulent calls, letters, phishing emails and smishing (text) attacks. We want to reassure members that any correspondence from us is genuine, and give you some tips to spot fraudulent correspondence.
What is phishing?
This is a type of financial fraud where criminals defraud, dupe or mislead people by email. Phishing emails have become very sophisticated and harder to identify.
What is smishing?
Smishing means “SMS phishing” and it’s where text messages are sent trying to encourage people to pay money or to click on suspicious links. Sometimes attackers encourage people to call a number, in order to persuade them further.
What is vishing?
Vishing means “voice phishing” and it’s where somebody with malicious intentions calls people and pretends to be from a reputable organisation. They will try to convince people to reveal personal information such as bank details or credit card numbers.
How can you tell that communication from us is genuine?
There are a few simple things to remember about the way we communicate to avoid being misled:
1. We’ll address you personally
We never begin an email with a generic ‘Dear member’ message. You’ll always be addressed by first name.
2. Reference numbers
We’ll always include your PPF or FAS reference number in our emails, so that you know it’s from us.
3. Password protection
We’ll never ask for your online password. This information is secure and unique to you, so never share this information if prompted to.
How can I spot fraudulent communications?
While phishing, smishing and vishing attempts are always growing more sophisticated, there are some key things to watch out for to keep yourself safe:
1. Spelling mistakes and messy layout
Look out for spelling mistakes, inconsistencies and strange or messy design. This is common in phishing emails and smishing texts.
2. Generic greetings
If you receive a letter, email, phone call or text message which does not greet you by name or use a reference number known to you, and you’re not expecting the contact, it may be fraudulent.
3. A sense of urgency
Fraudulent communications are often designed to frighten people into taking action quickly, which can lead to unwise decisions in the panic of the moment.
How can you protect yourself?
1. Report suspicious communications
The message might be from a company you don’t normally receive communications from, or someone you do not know. If you are suspicious, you should report it by calling the organisation on their publicly listed number, not the number provided in the suspicious correspondence.
2. Don’t reply to suspicious emails
Don’t reply to an email if it doesn’t look right, and don’t click on links or attachments unless you know they are safe.
3. Ask for verification over the phone
If you receive a phone call from anyone who is asking for your information (e.g. if they ask you to confirm your date of birth or address) do not give them any information until you’re satisfied they are who they say they are.
We’re here to help
If you have any general queries or questions about your pension scheme, you can still contact us from 9.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday for assistance.