ALERT! 'Phishing' A Hook For Scam Artists
As shopping, auctions, and other online activities become ever more popular,
the tools used to "scam" people are increasing in volume and
level of deception. "Phishing" is one of the most effective
scamming techniques used today. "Phishing" is a term that refers
to tricking computer users into disclosing credit card, bank account,
or other valuable, personal information.
Phishing often comes in the form of an e-mail that looks like legitimate,
official correspondence from an Internet vendor such as VISA, eBay, Paypal,
or even your bank or the FBI. The e-mail may have a link to a web-site
with a very "official" appearance including actual company
logos and government seals. The site may even have a forged or spoofed
web address, making it appear as if it has actually come from the vendor.
These e-mails inform the user that their account has been flagged for
review or even termination. They may state that the account-holder/recipient
is "required" to provide current information in order for the
account to remain in good standing. Users are then redirected to a look-alike
website designed to convince them they are responding to a legitimate
request. Data submitted via the deceptive web site is then routed directly
to the fraudulent "phishers", who use the stolen information
to purchase goods and services.
This type of e-mail solicitation *has* been received by users at Virginia
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has posted warnings about these
deceptive e-mails, and provides the following points that can help
you avoid "getting hooked":
- If you receive an e-mail that warns you, with little or no notice, that an
account of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing information,
do not reply or click on the link in the e-mail. Instead, contact the company
cited in the e-mail using a telephone number or Web site address you *know*
to be genuine.
- Avoid e-mailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial
information through a Web site, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's
status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them
to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement
is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank
to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Report suspicious activity to the FTC. Send the actual spam to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at http://www.ftc.gov/,
and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site (http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft)
to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from identity theft.