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Brits Increasingly Falling Victim to Online Phishing

Statistics from the UK-based Fraud Prevention Service CIFAS indicate that over 23% of British Internet users reported that they or their family members and friends had been victims of at least one phishing scam during 2008.

Richard Hurley, Communications Manager of CIFAS, warns that the informality and immediacy of the Net often makes one drop his guard and very easily forget that the sender might not be the person he/she claims to be, as reported by BCS on February 18, 2009.

Mr. Hurley further said that the trend might appear obvious, but the increase in such scams suggested that people simply were not careful while surfing the Internet.

In addition, the report indicates a frightening 207% increase in frauds that takeover facility, an outcome of online fraudsters illicitly accessing other accounts.

Meanwhile, the most frequent kinds of frauds, according to CIFAS, relate to those in which the potential victims get e-mails posing as communications from the bank where they have an account, an organization they conduct business with, a social networking website, or a government agency. Another common fraud nowadays pertains to fake foreign lotteries in which the e-mail makes the recipient believe that he has won a lottery, however, he needs to wire funds to pay tax or administrative costs so as to receive the prize. Often, these frauds also request for personal information.

Another fraud frequently found nowadays relates to advance fee frauds in which the victim is asked to assist the e-mail sender in transferring a huge amount of money from an offshore country in exchange for a commission.

According to the security specialists, fraudsters are modifying the attack techniques with existing conditions, as they are aware of the stringency of the lending criteria on account of the prevailing financial crisis.

CIFAS therefore urges users receiving e-mails to remain vigilant of links leading to unknown places and to always check if the sender's address matches with his identity.

The specialists further suggest that people online should know about the risks associated with phishing attacks, particularly when the latter are causing total confusion out there.

Related article: British Telecommunications Introduces New anti-spam System

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