Monday, June 30, 2008

Beware - Gone Phishing!

One of the biggest frauds being committed today is the scam of email phishing.

What is Email Phishing?

If you regularly use email as a communication method then someone has tried to phish you unless you haven't opened any email in the last 18 months. Phishing is the email you generally receive that informs you that your bank account/paypal account/ebay account has been suspended until you login and verify your account details.The email says something like this -

"We recently reviewed your account, and suspect that your Citibank Internet Banking account may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party. Protecting the security of your account and of the Citibank network is our primary concern. Therefore, as a preventative measure, we have temporarily limited access to sensitive account features. To restore your account access, please take the following steps to ensure that your account has not been compromised".

If you click on the link provided in the email you are taken to a web page that contains all the logos and features of the legitimate organization with a form to fill out with some or all of your account details

These emails DO NOT come from your banking institution. They have come from somebody who is trying to STEAL your account details. This information will then be stored/or transmitted to the phisher who will now have your account details and can now make transactions on your account.

Do NOT respond to these emails. Your banking institution will contact you by letter or telephone if there is a problem with your account. If you get one of these emails DO NOT click on any links in the email. Instead you should contact your bank or financial institution by telephone/personally and ask if there is a problem with your account.

You should report any phishing emails to your financial institution and/or to the appropriate Federal authorities.

According to Gartner approximately 2 million people reported that their checking account was breached in one way or another during the last year and over US$ 2 billion were defrauded from the victims!

Other steps to take prevent this from happening to you -

Never submit account details unless a web site is secure. Look for the closed padlock in your browser status bar and the https:// at the beginning of the Web address. If both of these signs are present, then the Web site is secure.

Review your bank statements immediately when you receive them.

Most phishing emails come from spam so get a spam filter and install it on your computer.

Report ANY phishing attempts to the concerned institution.

Change your passwords and PINs regularly. It is advisable to use separate PINs and passwords for different accounts so that if one account is compromised, your whole financial details will not be compromised.

If you are a frequent user of EBay, download the EBay Web browser toolbar which is a small program that runs with your Web browser. It flashes red when you visit a possible spoof site. The toolbar uses a database of spoof site URLs, submitted by customers and is updated quite often.

Check and update your computer with the latest scanners for spyware and trojan software.

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