Phishing: What Is
Criminals around the world are stealing
credit card numbers, bank account passwords and other sensitive information in
greater numbers than ever before. Many of them are using tools, easily found on
the Web, that let them spy on the Internet habits of hundreds of thousands of
people, from the sites they visit to the keystrokes they enter.
of the technology has been around for years, but security experts say organized
crime and other groups are learning to use it in creative ways. Merely surfing
the Web -- even visiting some familiar and trusted Web sites -- can bring dangerous
exposure to criminals.
While virus protection
and security software can help lower those risks, another scam is leaving many
users on their own: e-mail "phishing," the random attempt to obtain
account numbers and passwords by criminals masquerading as legitimate businesses.
"Phishing" is a kind
of credit and debit card fraud. By pretending to be email from a bank or similar
site, scammers "fish" for account numbers, passwords, Social Security
numbers, etc. They trick consumers into divulging sensitive information so that
unlawful charges can be made on the consumers' accounts.
Phishing email schemes change frequently
and often have links or attachments with links. Users who click
on the links are taken to look-alike sites where they are asked
to enter personal data.