- Internet & the Web
Phishing Examples and Phishing Protection
Phishing is Fraud
Phishing is a popular tool for criminals attempting to aquire your sensitive information by means of trickery and manipulation. The 'phishers' use many different methods to get sensitive information from you. They will contact you claiming to be a trusted person or institution and they use all forms of techonology, from e-mail and instant messaging to phone calls and in rare cases your mail box!
Damages caused by phishing can be very serious and can result in substantial financial loss. Businesses in the US lose an estimated $2billion per year as their clients become victims of phishing fraud. The stance adopted by the UK banking body is that the customer must take sensible precautions so that they are not vulnerable to these criminals.
When the first spate of phishing attacks hit the Irish Republics banking sector they initially refused to cover the losses and while some losses have been made good they still insist that its policy is not to cover losses to its customers.
It is wise for us to protect ourselves regardless of the stance of the banks and business to protecting and covering its customers. The hard fact is that any business or bank that insures its customers has to pay a price for that, either by swallowing the loss themselves or paying a third entity to provide that insurance.
My Phishing Experiences
From being contacted by a "Nigerian Millionaire to a real Psychic" I have had personal experiences of phishing!
I remember the first time I got an email with an offer of being made very rich if I would just help this poor nigerian millionaire with funds transfers. I was totally amazed! How did this millionaire find me! I must be so special HA! This email did appeal to my desire for some easy money, who doesn't want loads of easy money? I, unfortunately for that poor nigerian millionaire, didn't actually have a bank account at that time! Such a shame, I could be a millionaire by now :(.
Seriously, this type of scam is pretty transparent if you stop to think about how likely it really is that you are going to be chosen out of the 6 billion people on the planet to share in such wealth. I usually have a good laugh and delete those emails... I have experienced less funny ones tho.
The most common type of phishing I have experienced seems to happen a few times a year. I get a call from my 'bank' warning me that there is some unusual activity on my account. This can be kinda scary. Then they ask for my banking details so that they can access my account to verify if it has been de-frauded or not. Wait a second! What! You called me here! You just told me you were looking at my account, now I need to give you information on my account to access it? I have at this point been hung up on but not always, they can be persistent little buggers!
What upsets me about this one is that its not appealing to my greed, its exploiting my fear. When I hear that I may have been the victim of fraud I get scared and if I panic I probably would give all the info they need to find out what is going on! Lucky for me I get mad instead of panicking, I do have to say I get a bit rude to the person calling and don't feel bad about it either!
The thing I do to make sure I have not actually had my account wiped out or illegally accessed I always call the bank or go in for a visit. If there is a legitimate chance that my account has been made vulnerable they are always happy to check with minimal information. If I call the bank I know I am talking to the bank, anyone who calls me can claim anything and be lying.
My favorite scam came through to post. This one almost got me! I received a letter from a french psychic who the spirits had commanded contact me due to the grave danger I was in. Just in case I was a non-believer she had sent through a medallion that would offer very meager protection, this is what caught my imagination. It was a pretty cool medallion and I actually still have it lol. I think I would have contacted her to discover what grave danger my future held if it hadn't been for the price tag! I am a very frugal spender and don't believe I have money to just give away so I decided to take my chances with the evil forces threatening me.
If you have had an experience with a phisher I would love to hear it! Let me know your story in the comments box at the bottom of this page. If you wish to read a bit about the legal history of phishing please continue reading before commenting.
Legal History for Phishing
The first filed lawsuit was in 2004 against a suspected phisher. The defendant was a californian teenage who was alleged to have created webpages designed to look like America Online, and used it to steal credit card information.
Many countries have followed this lead and have traced and arrested phishers. One such phishing kingpin was arrested in Brazil for leading one of the largest phishing crime rings. This crime ring in two years stole between US$18million and US$37million. Cases can be found of legal action being taken against phishers from the UK to Japan.
Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Anti-Phishing Act of 2005. Had this bill been enacted into law it would have subjected criminals who created fake web sites and sent bogus e-mails to fines of up to $250,000 and prision terms of up to five years.
Companies themselves have also joined the drive to crack down on phishing. In 2005 Microsoft filed 117 federal lawsuits. The lawsuits accuse defendants of obtaining passwords and other confidential information.
Consequences of phishing are becoming more sever as the extent of the damage it causes becomes more evident. Companies and Governments can make serious headway into combating this problem and when we do our part to protect ourselves we can actually stand a chance of making these scammers work harder then they would if they just got a job!