From the Anit-Phishing Working Group - "
gatorsmall The word "phishing" comes from the analogy that Internet scammers are using email lures to "fish" for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet users. The term was coined in the 1996 timeframe by hackers who were stealing America On-Line accounts by scamming passwords from unsuspecting AOL users.
Phishing has grown from stealing internet accounts to full blown identity theft. Phishing is a social engineering type of hacking. The culprits intend to gain your trust by posing as a legitimate company that you do business with. They will try to scare or entice you into responding as they want by sending you an email as in this example:
"Dear (enter your bank name here) Customer -
We are glad to inform you that our bank is switching to a new transactions security standard. The new updated technologies will ensure the security of your payments through our bank. Both our software and hardware will be updated.
We kindly ask you to confirm your ATM card details here:
YourBankName Customer Support "
First and foremost, this email should send up warnings like a roman candle. Any reputable company is not going to ask you to confirm your details via an email message. They are also not going to address you as "Customer", they will address you by name in the email. The best advice I can give you is that if it looks and smells like a rat, it probably is. Read on to see what you can do about this problem.
One of the biggest signals that this is a hacker attempt is to look at he provided link. Looks legitimate doesn't it? Well, you can hide an address inside a link that you will not recognize unless you are very careful. One of the easiest ways to determine what address the link will actually go to is to do this: Run your mouse pointer the link that is in the email. Leave it hovered over the address but DO NOT CLICK ON IT. Then look at the bottom message bar of your email window. Most email programs will show you the link that you are going to. In most cases, you will see a link that looks nothing like the one in the email message. To find out what to do about this, read on.
HOW TO HANDLE THIS
Do not immediately delete the offending message. If you see something like this, DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS IN THE MESSAGE. Go to the website that the email supposedly came from and do a search on "Fraud". Once you find a contact address for the fraud department, forward this email to the them with a brief explanation of why you are sending the email. They may not respond to you but they will appreciate the assistance in eliminating this growing problem. I have personally forwarded over 300 of these emails to various organizations. I receive a ton of junk or unsolicited email and there are a lot of these emails included.
IF YOU HAVE RESPONDED
Do not panic.
Immediately contact the institution that was listed in the bogus email. Inform them that you have possibly been a victim of identity theft. Make sure you change all account passwords and logins. If necessary, cancel the cards involved and request new cards with new numbers. Most companies are happy to do this as it will limit their liability in such cases.
If you have seen an erroneous charge or suspicious account activity, again, do not panic. These problems can be rectified but it will take some work on your part. Do as stated above and also do the following. Contact your local police department and ask to speak to the Financial Crimes division. Make sure you are able to provide them with as much information as possible regarding the email, what the amount of the fraudulent transaction is, transaction numbers, etc. The more information you can provide, the better chance of catching the criminals involved in this pursuit. Once you have a police report number, contact the company again and give them this information, as well as request a reversal of the charges/account activity. You should have your money back in a few days. In matters such as this, patience and diligence are key.
Hopefully this has opened your eyes to the potential for Internet fraud and just how susceptible we are to these attacks. Stay on the alert and you can continue to enjoy a safe and happy Internet experience!!