Press Release

Warning on festive phishing trends


1st December 2020

Warning on festive phishing trends as business poll shows two thirds believe malicious emails are on the rise

  • In a poll targeted at businesses, nearly two thirds of respondents (62%) believe the number of phishing emails they receive has increased in the last year
  • Only 21% of commercial policyholders surveyed are completely confident they can identify a phishing email
  • Experts warn of busy Christmas for scammers, who will target online shoppers
  • NFU Mutual, the UK’s leading rural insurer, has extended its free cyber helpline to offer advice to its small business and small farm customers over the Christmas period

Research conducted by NFU Mutual, a significant commercial insurer, has revealed that nearly two thirds of respondents (62%) believe the number of phishing emails they receive has increased in the last year. Twenty percent thought they had received around the same number, and just 18% believe the number has decreased.

Only 21% of respondents were completely confident they could identify a phishing email, while 79% had uncertainties.

NFU Mutual introduced a free three-month cyber helpline in June of this year to provide additional support for its small business and small farm customers.* The service has now been extended to the end of the year, supporting businesses as the growing number of phishing emails leaves them feeling more vulnerable to cyber-attack. The helpline offers eligible customers free access to 24/7 coaching, which covers ‘up to the minute’ methods of cyber-protection and offers support in the event of an attack.

Zoe Knight, Commercial Propositions Manager at NFU Mutual, said: “It only takes one small error to make a business very vulnerable. The vast proportion of cyber-incidents are the result of human error. The best way to combat that is to educate employees on cyber security and to keep refreshing that knowledge with regular training. Cyber-crime develops quickly, so an employee’s understanding of the threats facing the business must develop quickly too.

“Phishing emails sent around Christmas time are a prime example of this continually evolving threat. Cyber-criminals capitalise on increased levels of online shopping, leveraging themes like failed payments, incomplete orders and missed parcels to lure people into clicking links, opening attachments or sharing personal details.

“We have extended our free helpline service in direct response to the increased exposure our commercial customers are facing. With phishing emails growing in both sophistication and frequency, we want to help businesses understand the dangers, and support them to react quickly in the event of a cyber incident.”

The helpline is delivered by Cyberscout, a global industry leader in cyber-security and identity theft resolution services.

Offering further insight into phishing email trends over the festive period, Tom Spier, Commercial Director of Global Markets at Cyberscout, said: “With this year expected to break records for online shopping, individuals and businesses alike need to tread carefully. A personal device that has been compromised by a careless click on a phishing email or a download from a phony e-commerce site is capable of spreading ransomware across a business’s network, sometimes within seconds.”

Top tips for identifying a phishing email:

·        Pay attention to expressions of urgency or immediate requests for action

·        Be aware of requests for sensitive personal information

·        Check for spelling or grammatical errors

·        Watch out for communications from unknown or untrusted senders

·        If you know/trust the sender, does the email address used match the contact you have on record?

·        Has the email come through at an odd time? Be wary of messages received out of office hours


- Ends -

* Further information on the helpline

The helpline service is available to NFU Mutual small business and small farm customers with a turnover up to £3million and up to ten employees. Customers will need to provide their policy number when calling. Personal cyber matters are not covered by this helpline. This is a helpline advice service only, provided by Cyberscout on behalf of NFU Mutual. It does not constitute insurance cover.  

Cyberscout is able to resolve most issues raised by businesses over the phone. In the event a case requires further investigation and support, Cyberscout will provide a quote for their services, allowing callers to choose whether to proceed. Customers should note that the support does not constitute cyber insurance and does not mean that their business has cover in the event of a cyber-attack.

For full terms and conditions and FAQs on the service, please visit:

NFU Mutual research

1.     Mutual voice research (117 people surveyed)

How confident are you that you can identify a phishing email?                            
Completely confident 21%
Fairly confident 75%
Not at all confident 4%

2.     Poll on NFU Mutual Twitter feed (630 responses)

Do you feel the number of phishing emails you receive has changed in the last year?

Yes, I have received less 18%
Yes, I have received more 62%
No, it’s stayed the same 20%


For more information, contact: 

Kay Henderson, Press Officer  

Tel: 07980 793354  


About Cyberscout:

Since 2003, Cyberscout has been a trusted provider of cybersecurity and privacy protection services. Offering a range of support, education, data theft recovery, and breach response solutions, Cyberscout services 17.5 million households and more than 700,000 businesses worldwide. Cyberscout solutions are offered by an ever-growing number of client partners combining technology expertise with high-touch service to help individuals, government and commercial clients minimise cyber risk and maximise recovery.

About NFU Mutual:

NFU Mutual offers a wide range of products, including general insurance, life, pensions, and investments. These products and services are delivered through the agency network, as well as through a direct sales and service centre. With over 300 offices located in rural towns and villages throughout the UK, NFU Mutual has become part of the fabric of rural life and remains committed to serving the needs of people who visit, live or work in the countryside.

NFU Mutual is proud to deliver more than simply insurance. Making farming safer, supporting rural initiatives across the UK and helping to look after the environment are just some of the ways we do that. To find out more about everything we do to support our communities, visit