"Phishing" and Protecting Your Personal Information Online
We are committed to maintaining the security of your accounts and personal information. Over the past year, there have been many fraudulent e-mails circulating the Internet attempting to "steal" your personal information. In a process known as "phishing," these fraudulent e-mails circulate daily, change their language, and claim to be from a wide variety of financial institutions including Wells Fargo.
These fraudulent e-mails sometimes contain clever and compelling language that prompts recipients to click on links. The links lead to fraudulent Web sites that may look like legitimate Web sites and ask for personal information. Do not provide any information to these fraudulent Web sites. Should you question the authenticity of any e-mail content or links you receive that appear to be from Wells Fargo Advantage Funds®, open a new Internet browser window and type www.wellsfargo.com/advantagefunds, then click on the appropriate link such as Individual Investors, Investment Professionals, or Institutional Sales Professionals.
Identity theft and online fraud can occur when someone poses as a legitimate company to obtain sensitive personal data and illegally conducts transactions on your existing accounts. These "phishing" or "spoofing" schemes use a variety of methods, including fake e-mails, fake Web sites and suspicious pop-up windows.
Always keep in mind that Wells Fargo Advantage Funds
will never require clients to send personal information to us via e-mail or in pop-up windows. Any unsolicited request for Wells Fargo Advantage Funds
account information such as passwords, login IDs, and PIN numbers that you receive through e-mails, Web sites, or pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately.
Fake e-mails will often:
- Appear to be from a legitimate source. While some e-mails are easy to identify as fraudulent due to misspellings, poor grammar, or poor formatting, others may appear to be from a legitimate address and trusted online source. However, you should not rely on the name or address in the "From" field, as these are easily altered.
- Ask you for personal information. Fake e-mails often contain an overly generic greeting and may claim that your account will be suspended, that your information has expired, or that your personal information has been corrupted or lost, and that you must immediately resend or visit a Web site to confirm it.
- Link to counterfeit Web sites. Fake e-mails may direct you to counterfeit Web sites carefully designed to look real, but which actually collect personal information for illegal use.
- Link to real Web sites. In addition to links to counterfeit Web sites, some fake e-mails also include links to legitimate Web sites. The fraudsters do this in an attempt to make a fake e-mail appear real.
- Contain fraudulent phone numbers. Fake e-mails often contain telephone numbers that are tied to the fraudsters. Never call a number featured on an e-mail you suspect is fraudulent, and be sure to double-check any numbers you do call.
- Contain real phone numbers. Some of the telephone numbers listed in fake e-mails may be legitimate, connecting to actual companies. Just like with links, fraudsters include the real phone numbers in an effort to make the e-mail appear to be legitimate.
Some fake e-mails may also contain a virus known as a "Trojan horse" that can record your keystrokes. The virus may live in an attachment or be accessed via a link in the e-mail.
Again, Wells Fargo Advantage Funds clients should keep in mind that we do not request personal information via e-mail. Never respond to unsolicited e-mails, open unknown attachments, or click on links from suspicious or unknown senders.
How is my e-mail address obtained?
E-mail addresses can be obtained from publicly available sources or through randomly generated lists. Therefore, if you receive a fake e-mail that appears to be from Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, this does not mean that your e-mail address, name, or any other information has been taken from the Wells Fargo Advantage Funds systems.
Counterfeit Web sites
Online thieves often direct you to fraudulent Web sites via e-mail and pop-up windows and try to collect your personal information. In many cases there is no easy way to determine that you are on a phony Web site because the URL will contain the name of the institution it is spoofing. However, if you type, or cut and paste, the URL into a new Web browser window and it does not take you to a legitimate Web site, or you get an error message, it was probably just a cover for a fake Web site.
Another way to detect a phony Web site is to consider how you arrived there. Generally, you were directed by a link in a fake e-mail requesting your account information. Again, Wells Fargo Advantage Funds will not request personal information from clients via e-mail and any unsolicited request should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately.
How can I help protect myself?
With a few simple steps, you can help to protect your Wells Fargo Advantage Funds accounts and personal information from fake e-mails and Web sites:
- Delete suspicious e-mails without opening them. If you do open a suspicious e-mail, do not open any attachments or click on any links it may contain. Should you question the authenticity of any e-mail content or links you receive that appear to be from Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, open a new Internet browser window and type www.wellsfargo.com/advantagefunds, then click on the appropriate link such as Individual Investors, Investment Professionals, or Institutional Sales Professionals.
- Never provide sensitive account or personal information in response to an e-mail. If you have entered personal information, call Wells Fargo Advantage Funds immediately at 1-800-359-3379.
- Install and regularly update virus protection, spyware removal, and SPAM-filtering software.
- Keep your computer operating system and Web browser current with the most recent security updates and patches.
- Read our online security tips for more information on how to keep your computer and software up to date.
What is Wells Fargo Advantage Funds doing to protect me?
To prevent identity theft and ensure that e-mail messages are authentic, whenever you click on a link in an e-mail from Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, you will first go to a page that will show a personalized word. This "SecureWord" is shown to you so that you know that the e-mail you received was authentic and that you are on the genuine Wells Fargo Advantage Funds Web site.