In case it’s escaped anyone’s attention, the world is in economic turmoil. However, even people who are completely aware of this seem not to notice the increasing upturn in online fraud.
Recently, the US Federal Trade Commission passed out a warning, indicating a worryingly large growth of problems related to phishing, where information is gleaned from unsuspecting online users. Apparently, phishing attacks have increased more than 180% in a single year, and in its second annual report, the All Parliamentary Group on ID Fraud helpfully pointed out that tighter credit lending rules would lead to more attempts to get at existing bank accounts. This immediately prompted our ever-vigilant goverment to suggest that ID theft is not such a big problem anymore, but instead, anyone using the internet for personal or financial reasons should be more made aware of the potential problems that could occur.
Going back to the FTC, who seem to have a better grasp on highlighting the issues, they outlined the problem perfectly, saying that with rapid changes in the financial industry, where many institutions suddenly have new owners, this could be a green light for phishermen, as fraudsters can easily pose as the new owners of banks or the goverment agencies who are embroiled in the mess.
Secure Computing revealed that it’s October spam report showed many of the banks and other financial institutions involved in the credit crunch were topping the list of phishing targets: Chase, Wachovia and Bank of America were among the most popular targets with scammers and the report also indicated that the company expects British banks to begin creeping into these lists, as mergers and buy-outs are completed.
So, in case you didn’t know, you need to be wary online – don’t reply to emails or pop-ups that ask for any form of personal information, if they look like they’ve come from your bank. Check statements and online transactions carefully. As the philosophical George Bush said, it’s your money – you paid for it.