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Internet security and protection against spam and phishing

Email is a useful way to communicate with others and to stay updated by people and organisations you trust. However, it's also popular with those that send spam or phishing emails, which might trick you into giving money or personal information. Take a look below to learn about spam and phishing emails, and how to report scam emails.

What is spam (or junk) email?

Spam (or junk) emails are those that you haven't asked for. They might include advertising for online pharmacies, loans or adult services. Some may mask a virus or have phishing content.

These unwanted emails might pretend to be from known companies. Or they might appear to come from friends or people you know, if they've also been affected.

Spammers collect email addresses from news groups or websites that share them without your permission. 

What is phishing?

Phishing emails try to trick you into giving personal or financial details, or into downloading malicious software onto your computer or device.

They do this by pretending to be from a trusted source, such as a bank, shop, lottery or government department. The link they include will take you to a site that might look genuine but is actually a fake.

There are some common ways that you can spot a phishing email. They include:

  • The sender's email doesn’t match the website address you'd expect from their organisation
  • The email doesn't use your name
  • Spelling or grammatical mistakes
  • An urgent request to click on a link
  • The email asks you for personal details

However, you might find some phishing emails don't display all of the above features.

At SSE, we won't ask for you for a password or other personal details in our emails.

Using your emails safely

It can be tricky to avoid spam completely, but there are a few things you can do to stay safe:

  • Try to limit who you give your email address to.
  • Don't open, forward or reply to emails you think might be spam.
  • If you do open a spam email, don't load images, open attachments or click on any links (these can let spammers know that your email address is in use)
  • Choose an email provider with a good email spam filter to stop unwanted emails reaching your inbox.
  • Never buy anything, or give your account or PIN details in response to a suspicious email.
  • If you're in any doubt, contact the organisation directly.

How to report an email scam

If you've received or been the victim of fraudulent emails, you can contact ActionFraud to report an email scam.