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Guide to Understanding Phishing Facts and Frauds

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 10/30/2010

Phishing is potentially the single biggest threat to your livelihood. These facts and figures have been collected to illustrate just how severe a threat phishing fraud is, and how you can protect yourself

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    Don't Be Fooled by Phishing

    Been fooled by phishing? This technique – which allows fraudsters to steal and then use your personal information – has become a major tool in the arsenal of online con artists. In 2005 reports of phishing emails increased 4000% (four thousand percent).

    Basically phishing involves acquiring personal information from the target so that these details can be used to commit identity fraud. This might occur via telephone, email, on the web or even by text message, and can leave you heavily out of pocket.

    You should be aware of these techniques before embarking on any online shopping – and just so you know how widespread this method is, we’ve prepared a selection of phishing facts.

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    Phishing Facts You Should Know

    Credit card fraud Let’s start with the basics – while 2010 figures are yet to be released, previous year’s figures indicate that phishing causes $2.4M to $9.4M in losses per one million online banking victims. This is just 0.5% of all online banking customers.

    Security firm McAfee estimate that 95% of phishing emails attempt to trick the recipient into believing that they are genuine mailings from the most popular online services such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, PayPal or banks.

    Clicking on a URL in a suspect message from any of these organisations will leave you open to identify theft. Web addresses in emails can easily be configured to redirect you not to the genuine website but a spoof website. For instance, a fake version of Facebook can be setup in a matter of minutes, and few would be able to recognise the difference.

    (Image credit:

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    More Facts About Phishing

    Ok, so you know the basics about phishing – but how can you prevent yourself from being one of the unlucky ones?

    With around 60 million emails sent each day with the intention of phishing information from the recipient, good quality email filtering software is needed. Such tools are available for Outlook, Thunderbird and other popular tools; if you use Gmail or Hotmail, this functionality is built in to the service.

    Also, look out for emails that concern popular subjects in the news, such as ecological and/or humanitarian disasters. Phishers will target you any way they can, and this includes appealing to your good nature.

    An increase in average losses has coincided in recent years with a decrease in the number of recovered losses. This might indicate that the fraudsters are winning, but remember that each year more and more people begin shopping and banking online.

    With these facts in mind, you should change your online behaviour.

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    5 Steps to Online Safety

    Here are 5 steps you can take to decrease the likelihood that you will be phished or defrauded.

    1. Don’t trust anyone online – if you can’t see them, how can you be sure they’re genuine? Don’t share personal information on social networking sites

    2. Install email security tools on your PC.

    3. Use only secure websites.

    4. Use filter services such as such as IE SmartScreen or Google Safe Browsing, and keep your browsers up to date with the most recent versions. Also, learn to spot fake URLs.

    5. Carry out transactions only within the frameworks provided by websites like Amazon and eBay. Don’t accept requests to buy or sell privately.