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July 2004

How to prevent phishing scams and protect customers

Phishing is no longer a nuisance crime. Sophisticated identity thieves are targeting customers of financial institutions and high-profile e-tailers in big numbers--and starting to get big results. Unlike spammers, phishers' messages aren't aimed at selling male enhancement drugs, cut-rate mortgages or porn. Rather, phishers use common spamming techniques to generate vast numbers of e-mails that lure customers to spoofed websites and trick them into giving up passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information. The problem has exploded since Earthlink issued its first warning a year ago. E-mail security provider Brightmail (recently acquired by Symantec) reported it detected 2.3 billion phishing messages in February alone. A study released by Gartner Research in May estimates that 76%of all known phishing attacks had occurred since last December. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (, an industry association of more than 200 organizations, reported 1,125 unique phishing attacks in April, up from 402 in ...

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