The internet, though a wonderful tool, is fraught with ways to get ripped off and teeming with unscrupulous people looking to exploit the trusting nature of others. Internet fraud, especially phishing, is on the rise, and it’s important for internet users to be cautious in their online habits to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam.
According to the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center, phishing is the most wide-spread online fraud technique. The RSA Consumer Solutions Monthly Online Fraud Intelligence Report for July 2006 reports a rise in the following trends:
- An ongoing increase in the amount of global brands attacked
- New countries targeted for phishing and an increase in European targets
- New countries being used as a source to host phishing attacks
RSA predicts that the upward trend in sophisticated fraud techniques will continue in response to the anti-phishing movement. As companies and individuals take extreme precautiions against phishing, phishers are shifting their techniques, searching for better ways to catch users and companies off guard and targeting smaller businesses with fewer security resources.
Phishing is a fraud technique usually carried out by email, in which personal information is collected from victims by people masquerading as a business or organization. A typical phishing email may claim to be from a bank or other financial institution and contain a link to a phony website, which may be a near-duplicate of a legitimate website, along with instructions to follow the link to correct or verify account information. A successful phishing scam would end with the victim following the link and entering the requested information, which is then recorded by the site’s owners. Through this action, the victim has literally handed over access to his financial account to the monitors of the website, who are then free to use it to their advantage.
RSA states that phishers are beginning to target European banks and other financial institutions outside the United States at a rapid pace, with European banks representing over 15 percent of targeted institutions. It’s not much compared to the 78 percent of U.S. banks targeted, but considering that the number of brands targeted has enjoyed an almost 100 percent increase since the beginning of 2006, it’s a fair amount. The number of phishing targets, according to RSA, is increasing at a rate of 10 to 20 percent per month, with around 10 new targets being attacked each month.
To avoid falling victim to a phishing scam, StopSign recommends never responding to or following a link in an email that requests personal information. Other steps to take include:
If you think you may have fallen for such a scam, you should change all your passwords connected with your online bank accounts and contact any company with whom you hold a financial account. Using caution and common sense when dealing with any online financial records or monetary exchange will help keep you from becoming the next in the ever-growing number of phishing fraud victims.