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Website Phishing Increases Due To Bank Turmoil

October 10, 2008

Government and security experts say hi-tech fraudsters are taking advantage of the global financial turmoil.

Phishing gangs are using the turmoil to extract valuable information from consumers, according to a warning issued by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

A UK parliamentary group said it expected a move away from ID theft towards attacks on account holders.

UK banking group revealed that phishing attacks were up more than 180% in a year.

The current rapid changes in the banking world, where many institutions suddenly had new owners, could only help fraudsters keen to steal login and other personal details, the FTC said.

“Scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information,” it warned.

The FTC warned against fraudsters who pose as the new owners of banks or the federal agencies charged with oversight of struggling institutions.

Consumers are urged to be wary and not reply to e-mail messages or pop-ups that ask for personal or financial information even if they appeared to come from a bank. Consumers should also scrutinize bank and credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or transfers.

A spam report in October showed that many of the banks and other financial institutions caught up in the turmoil were topping the list of phishing targets, Secure Computing said.

They reported Chase, Wachovia and Bank of America were among the most popular targets with scammers.

The company said it expected British banks to be popular too in the coming weeks as changes and mergers are completed.

The All Parliamentary Group on ID Fraud said in its second annual report that tighter credit lending rules would lead to more attempts to get at existing bank accounts.

“There is no longer a guarantee that they will get credit by applying assuming another person’s identity, so they are instead tapping into accounts which already exist,” the report read.

The Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) released fraud figures in early October showing a steep rise in the number of phishing attacks even before the turmoil in the banking world began.

It said from January to June 2008, phishing attacks rose by 186% on the same period in 2007. It saw more than 20,682 phishing incidents during that six month period in total.

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