Phishing is the use of fraudulent e-mails and Web sites to lure consumers into sharing personal and financial information. According to the most recent data from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, there were 1,125 unique attacks in April — a 180 percent increase over March (statistics from 2004). Since then it has only been growing.
Criminals are sending out millions of “urgent” e-mails trying to get unsuspecting consumers to divulge personal information such as their Social Security numbers or the passwords for their online accounts.
Some tell consumers the federal insurance on their savings accounts will be canceled unless they immediately update their personal details. Others claim to be from Internet service providers redoing their billing lists and others say something has gone wrong with a credit card transaction and that additional information is needed or the card will be canceled.
Sometimes they include links both to a website where they want consumers to divulge their information as well as links to the real credit institution website, to seem legitime.
What can you do to protect yourself against Phishing
Consumers can take proactive steps to thwart identity theft, such as:
– Regularly obtaining personal credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies and carefully reviewing the information.
– Question and correct any inaccuracies.
– Try to avoid providing their mother’s maiden name as a security feature. In many cases, identity thieves can find this information with little difficulty. Instead, consumers should substitute a name of personal significance, such as a grandmother’s maiden name, a friend or family member’s nickname, or a favorite author’s name.
– Assigning a separate password for each account requiring one. This step can help limit the amount of damage a criminal can do.
– Shredding documents that contain important personal information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers before discarding.
Examples that I got in my mailbox last week
(Links has been removed)
From: Citibank [email@example.com]
Subject: 0fficiaI Notice for aII users of Citiban
(Please note, the whole white part above is actually one big picture and one big link and it doesn’t link to the same place that it’s showing.)
From: Fleet [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: 0fficial Notice for all FleetBank clients!
(Probably the two examples above is from the same group since they are so similar.)