e-mail steals money and identities
The newest scams to hit the Web are authentic-appearing e-mails
requesting verification of financial information. Customers
of Yahoo!, Citibank, AOL, Earthlink, PayPal, BestBuy.com,
Discover Card and SonyStyle.com are among those targeted.
The scam technique, nicknamed "spoofing"
or "phishing" (as in "fishing for information"
but with a "p" like "phony"), is causing
so many problems that the FTC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the National Consumers League and Earthlink held a press conference
in September in Washington, D.C., to raise the public's awareness
of the problem.
"Bogus e-mails that try to trick customers
into giving out personal information are the hottest, and
most troubling, new scam on the Internet," says Jana
Monroe, Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division.
In this scam, the phisher sends out a legitimate-looking
e-mail that claims to be from a company the reader does business
with and tells the reader that there is an account error,
possible fraud or other problem with the account.
The reader is asked to click on a link in
the e-mail and enter account information on the linked Web site.
The link takes the reader to a phony Web site that gathers the
information and could use the information to drain the reader's
bank account, charge up their credit card and steal their identity.
For example, a customer of Yahoo! Wallet in
South Florida received an e-mail that looked very much like
a Yahoo! correspondence from Yahoo! Billing. The e-mail advised
him that his credit card information had either expired or
the mailing address was incorrect. He was to update his credit
card information within five days or risk losing the privilege
of Yahoo! Wallet. It looked real, but it was a con. Yahoo!
and other legitimate companies would never ask their customers
for private information in an e-mail.
Recently, Citibank reported
that this scam was attempting to dupe their customers. Here's
"Citibank urges recipients
of this e-mail to delete it immediately," says the Citibank
Web site. "Citibank does not ask customers to provide
sensitive information in this way. Don't reply to any e-mail
that requests your personal information."
Even people who do not have
accounts with these companies may receive the e-mail because
it is sent as spam to as many e-mail accounts as possible.
Remember that anyone
can build a legitimate-looking Web site. Don't fall for
about more scams.