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Public Warned of Fraudulent AOLPhishing Campaign

Charles H. Bronson, Commissioner of Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services, on January 27, 2009, issued an alert about a phishing campaign using the brand name of AOL (America Online), a popular Internet service provider, to capture the personal details of consumers, as reported by SunSentinel on January 27, 2009.

Consumers have recently reported of receiving e-mail messages from an ISP that pretends to represent the "AOL Safety and Security Group". The messages ask recipients for their billing details and warn that non-compliance would lead to the suspension of their accounts.

The phishing e-mail generally contains exciting or upsetting statements to lure victims to respond instantly. It typically asks the consumer to provide information such as his AOL screen name, other user ID and password, social security and payment card numbers etc.

However, the consumer scam investigators confirmed with AOL and declared that the e-mail messages are fake, according to state regulators. The investigators also said that AOL never asks customers personal data over e-mail. Many organizations strikingly and repeatedly tell their consumers that the organization or its representatives would never ever request end-users to reveal their password.

Thus, consumers have been advised to ignore any pop-up or e-mail message asking for financial or other personal information. Also, end-users who are concerned about the security of their account must directly call the organization or visit its website by entering the address manually into their browser.

Security specialists said that identity thieves typically use bogus "phishing" sites that appear genuine to trick users into divulging personal data. But given that millions of AOL users along with a number of Internet-monitoring companies reported the scam cases, users could avert these online scammers.

Moreover, the clickthrough rate for AOL users is the highest and therefore, the ISP has the greatest action rate in comparison to other service providers. But since nervous end-users easily trust any pop-up that appears on their computer screen or any e-mail that arrives into their mailbox, phishers are consistently targeting AOL.

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