Beware Of The Phishing Threat

Posted on: 13 October 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Criminals are taking advantage of the bank merging mayhem.

Hi-tech fraudsters are taking advantage of the global financial turmoil, say governments and security experts.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning saying phishing gangs are using the turmoil to extract valuable information from consumers.

A UK parliamentary group says it expects a move away from ID theft towards attacks on account holders.

The news comes as a UK banking group reveals that phishing attacks were up more than 180 per cent in a year.

The FTC says the current rapid changes in the banking world, where many institutions suddenly have new owners, can only help fraudsters keen to steal login and other personal details.

"Scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information," it warns.

It expects fraudsters to pose as the new owners of banks or the federal agencies charged with oversight of struggling institutions.

The FTC urges consumers to be wary and not reply to email messages or pop-ups that ask for personal or financial information even if they appear to come from a bank. Consumers should also scrutinise bank and credit card statements for unauthorised withdrawals or transfers.

Secure Computing says its October spam report shows that many of the banks and other financial institutions caught up in the turmoil are topping its list of phishing targets.

Chase, Wachovia and Bank of America are among the most popular targets with scammers.

The company also says it expects British banks to be popular too in the coming weeks as changes and mergers are completed.

In its second annual report, the All Parliamentary Group on ID Fraud says tighter credit lending rules will lead to more attempts to get at existing bank accounts.

"There is no longer a guarantee that they will get credit by applying assuming another person's identity, so they are instead tapping into accounts which already exist," reads the report.

Fraud figures released in early October by the Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs), which represents UK banks, show a steep rise in the number of phishing attacks even before the turmoil in the banking world began.

From January to June 2008 phishing attacks rose by 186 per cent on the same period in 2007. In total Apacs saw more than 20,682 phishing incidents during that six month period.

Have you been the victim of online fraud or a phishing attack?

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