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Cybercrooks prey on anxious investors

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MCLEAN, Va. (10/13/08)—As anxieties over the global financial crisis run high, cybercrooks--hoping to cash in on the growing economic calamity--are targeting current and former clients of financial institutions that have failed or merged (USA Today Oct. 9). Bank customers--many from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and Washington Mutual--report a spike in e-mails directing them to fake Web sites where they’re asked for personal information like username, password, name, address, phone number, and account details (UPI.com Oct. 9). Some customers are handing over personal information because the phisher claims the information is required to update files because of a merger. Many unsuspecting consumers are leaving themselves vulnerable to fraud in other ways. A survey of 3,000 Americans conducted by Zogby International and Symantec revealed that 80% falsely believed they had a firewall installed on their computer, yet only 50% actually had the protective software running on their computers (allheadlinenews.com Oct. 9). October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, sponsored by several national partners including the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security. The coalition recommends you take precautions to avoid being hooked by a phishing scam:
* Keep it private. Never provide personal or financial information in an e-mail message. E-mails aren’t secure. * Watch out for links. If you’re asked to click on a link within an e-mail message, don’t let your guard down—safeguard your personal information even if the sender appears to look legitimate. * Double-check the URL. If the URL has a variation in spelling or has a different domain—such as .com vs. .net—then don’t bite. It may be a scam. * Do some sleuthing. Verify whether the sender is legitimate by contacting the company directly. Don’t use contact information provided on the Web site associated with the request. Check your statements for phone numbers. Check out known phishing attacks at antiphishing.org. * Safeguard your computer. Install and update anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software. Visit download.com for advice and free downloads. * Use strong passwords. Use a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols.
For more information, watch the video, “Phishing: Don’t Take the Bait,” in Home & Family Resource Center.