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Warning Against Phishing

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Do-it-yourself phishing kits, freely available on the Internet, will lead to more online consumer scams. The kits include all the tools necessary to craft both the bogus messages that phishing scams rely on and the legitimate-looking sites that try to trick consumers into divulging confidential information, such as bank-account and credit-card numbers.

According to statistics collected by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, phishing attacks have increased by about 52 percent each month since January 2006. In June, the last month for which complete numbers were available, an average of 47.4 phishing attacks hit each day; in May, that number was 38.6.

The problem has grown so much so fast that the National Consumers League, the oldest consumer-advocacy group in the United States, said that this purloining of identity is now the fourth most-common type of Internet fraud. The group has launched an awareness campaign to educate users about how phishing works, how they can protect themselves, and where to go for help. The group backed up the campaign with a new web site.

Analysts estimate that 3 percent to 5 percent of those who receive a phishing message give up some confidential information, in the process providing enormous sums to fraud. In June alone, one analyst estimated that online scammers had ripped off consumers to the tune of some $2.4 billion from bank checking accounts alone.

As a result of the do-it-yourself phishing kits, everyone should be extra wary of any messages asking them to confirm financial information. Before opening any email, make sure your virus protection is updated. After opening your email, don’t click on the links contained within the messages.


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