Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Credit Card Phishing Scams Work

Credit card scams which are called Phishing is akin to Fishing - fishing for password .The basic concept is, bait is thrown out with the hope that someone will bite it. Phishing is when a criminal tries to obtain sensitive information like credit card numbers in an illegal manner. The scamsters set up bogus websites that is a replica of legitimate sites like banks, credit card companies and even Microsoft, in an attempt to trick consumers into giving up their credit card numbers. The modus operandi of these criminals is usually to spam out authentic looking e-mails with duplicate addresses, as well as pose as customer service representatives and request the customers for their online password. The e-mail subject headers warn the recipient of a problem with their account which needs to be updated or, in the case of Microsoft, the need to install still another patch. Furthermore there is a form attached to the email to fill out personal information, or a link to update personal information. By either filling the form or clicking the link the recipient is taken to the bogus site where the personal information is used for stealing the credit card numbers.

Lack of awareness about such fraudulent practices has made phishing successful. There are anti-phishing softwares or client-based anti-phishing programs that identify the phishing content contained in websites and e-mails and these programmes are now integrated with most of the email clients as well as web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox , Netscape and Opera.

However, here are a few pointers to bear in mind so as to avoid phishing scams.

1. Banks never send email asking for password or any other sensitive information.
2. Never ever follow a link in an e-mail .Instead, go directly to the valid company's site and then log on from there or call the company directly.
3. Always type the URL directly into the address bar of your browser. Confirm the URL's authenticity by looking for the security padlock icon in the browser's toolbar, which signifies a secure site.
4. Never use the same password for all of your online accounts.
5. Never store online account information and passwords in files on your computer.
6. Monitor your online accounts. Make sure all transactions are valid. Never send personal or financial information to any one via email.
7. People getting such mails should immediately check with the bank or company concerned.
8. Banks never start the mail with "Dear Customer".

Awareness and understanding of how this scam works, is the most efficient protection against credit card scam. If you are a victim of phishing scam, you can report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group which is a global law enforcement association whose objective is to eliminate and curtail this insidious threat to e-commerce.

Copyright © 2008 Laila Rajaratnam. All Rights Reserved

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