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Vanguard - Guard against online fraud and scams

Security Center  »  Guard Against Online Fraud and Scams


Guard against online fraud and scams

Con artists have devised clever ways to trick people into revealing personal information online, including schemes known as "phishing" and "pharming." Precautions taken by Vanguard—and you—can help keep your information secure.

Here's what you need to do

As you conduct business online, taking a few simple precautions can go a long way toward protecting your personal information.

  • Verify website security. Make sure the website has the proper encryption by first verifying that the web address (URL) begins with https://. Then mouse over the padlock image (depending on your browser) in your web browser window to show the security certificate information. You can also double-click the image to get additional information on SSL security. On vanguard.com and our mobile apps, be sure to look for your security image before logging on.
  • Vary answers to security questions. Use caution when you select your Vanguard security questions and answers, as some information about you is readily available on social media or public records. An alternative is to answer the security questions with unique responses or code words. If you choose this option, make sure you'll remember your answers.
  • Check your last logon date and time. Vanguard.com will display the last time your credentials (user name and password) were used to access your account. Contact us if you suspect the last logon date and time don't match the last time you logged on.
  • Log off and close your browser. Vanguard recommends that, after accessing your account information online, you click Log off at the top of the page and close your web browser or close your mobile app. Some of your account information can stay in your browser or app's memory until it's closed.
  • Open all Vanguard communications in a timely manner. We provide confirmations through U.S. mail and e-mail for online transactions. Watch for these confirmations, and if you have any questions about a confirmation statement, contact us immediately at abuse@vanguard.com or 888-353-0547. Also, keep your e-mail address up to date and notify us if you change your e-mail address.
  • Take caution when using public computers. Be cautious when using public computers (especially when traveling abroad and when using those found at libraries, internet cafés, and schools), or using shared ones, such as home computers. You don't know what may be installed on these computers. Public computers are traditionally on open networks and can be susceptible to malware and monitoring without your knowledge.
  • Use wireless technology safely. If you have a wireless network at home, make sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines to secure your network. If you're not sure how, contact the manufacturer for assistance. Also, don't access your Vanguard accounts from your personal computer or mobile device on public wifi connections as they can be susceptible to malware and monitoring without your knowledge.
  • Update your software. Older computers are harder to protect. Personal computers and laptops running nonsupported operating systems don't receive security software updates and have difficulty operating newer software, therefore increasing their vulnerability to hackers. To determine if Microsoft supports your version of the Windows operating system, search the Microsoft website for "supported Windows operating systems."  If you're a Mac user, consult Apple's website.
  • Review your credit report. Review your credit report every four to six months for unauthorized activity. Go to annualcreditreport.com annualcreditreport.com to receive your free credit report or call 877-322-8228. You can also contact any of the following credit reporting agencies.


Phishing attacks seek to gather personal information, such as Social Security numbers and passwords, to access victims' accounts. A phishing attack often appears as an unsolicited, but authentic looking, e-mail that may threaten to close your account unless you verify some information. Although the links in the message may look like they contain your financial institution's website address, they point to a fake website that gathers the information you enter. Criminals then use that information to steal a person's identity.

Vanguard won't ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, account numbers, or passwords in an e-mail. Don't respond to, open an attachment in, or click on a link within an e-mail if you suspect the message is fraudulent.

Phishing e-mails typically include typos and other mistakes, terms the company may not use, or e-mail addresses that look different than ones the company uses.

However, we may ask for personal information if you're having trouble logging on to vanguard.com. Our website's virtual assistant, Val, may appear on your screen to help you log on. Val may ask for information that can identify you, such as a portion of your, or your full, Social Security number.


Pharming is another type of online attack where website URLs (such as www.vanguard.com) are changed to point to an attacker's numeric internet address (the "IP address") instead of Vanguard's legitimate IP address. Successful pharming attacks are less common than they were a few years ago; however, it's possible for an attack to be temporarily successful against poorly protected servers.

To guard against pharming, Vanguard webpages that display your account information, or allow you to make changes, use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. SSL webpages start with "https://" instead of "http://". One of the advantages of SSL is that your web browser verifies the identity of the server. If an attacker successfully changed a website name so that a secure vanguard.com address brought you to an attacker's site that looked like vanguard.com, your browser would display a warning. The warning would state that the name on the certificate doesn't match the name of the site. If you encounter a similar message, don't access the page. Immediately contact Vanguard Web Technical Support Services at 888-353-0547 for assistance.

Need technical assistance?

Contact Web Technical Support Services at 888-353-0547, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern time.

Report security concerns

Receive a suspicious e-mail claiming to be from or about Vanguard? Forward it to us at phish@vanguard.com

Have other security concerns? E-mail us at abuse@vanguard.com

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