Phishing Emails Soar

Posted on: 30 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Fraudulent emails asking for your bank details have risen by 180 per cent in a year.

There have been more than 20,600 phishing emails in the first six months of this year alone. That compares to 7,200 in the same period last year, according to the UK’s payments body APACS.

One of the most sophisticated scamming viruses, spyware, allows fraudsters to monitor activity on the computer. They can view passwords and other personal information, without the user knowing.

Despite the figures however, the chances of becoming the victim of online banking fraud are still very low says APACS. The amount lost through internet fraud has fallen by 33 per cent during 2007 to £22.6 million.

This comes when the number of people using online banking has soared by 500 percent, up to 21 million people. Almost half of all internet users use online banking.

One reason why criminals are targeting customers through phishing and spyware scams is likely to be because the banks' own systems have proved difficult to attack.

A phishing attack involves fraudsters sending emails to consumers pretending to be from their bank, instructing them enter their account number and password details.

Communications Director for APACS Sandra Quinn advises, “We strongly urge banking customers to make sure they remain wary of online scams such as unsolicited emails claiming to be from their bank, and to only use a fully protected PC with regularly updated anti-virus software and a firewall installed and switched on.”

To protect online banking customers from being scammed, APACS has published a Banking Safely Online advice guide to help remind internet users of the need to stay vigilant and follow simple safety procedures when banking online. The guide includes useful information about the most common types of online scam and how to avoid falling victim to them.

Top tips include:

  • One easy way to spot a phishing email is that, because fraudsters only have very limited information such as people’s email addresses, phishing emails are usually addressed to ‘Dear valued customer’ rather than to you personally.
  • Don’t try and hit back at fraudsters by replying to phishing emails and either deliberately providing bogus information or letting the sender know that you are aware it’s a scam - by doing so you are putting your PC at risk of attack from malicious computer viruses.
  • Banks never send emails asking their customers to disclose PINs, login details or complete passwords - most fraud on online bank accounts involves a customer being duped into giving away their passwords and security information. 
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering you the chance to make easy money simply by transferring funds in and out of your online bank account. The funds you receive into your account will probably be fraudulently obtained, and by passing them on you will be laundering the money, which is illegal.

Web Links

The Banking Safely Online guide is freely available to download from www.cardwatch.org.uk and www.banksafeonline.org.uk.

Have you been a victim of online banking fraud? Do you bank online? Do you receive phishing emails?

If so, let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.


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