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Have you ever received an e-mail telling you you've been pre-approved for a great refinance loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars? How about an e-mail from your “banking institution” asking you to click on a link to update your account?
Attempts at online identity theft are landing in your “in” box every day disguised as legitimate offers and announcements. E-criminals know they're going to hook a few – and they actually hook a lot. So what kind of protection is there against these identity theft phishing scams?
“Antiphishing toolbars” are designed to stop online id theft scams like phishing. Offered free to customers by ISPs like AOL, major web browsers like Microsoft Explorer, and other companies like eBay, they serve as a warning device about Web sites that cloak their true addresses. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University showed results of an 85 percent effectiveness rate, which may sound pretty good but can give users a false sense of security. The study also noted each had a degree of false positives – legitimate sites that were wrongly identified as phishing sites.
Companies will continue to improve on the effectiveness of antiphishing software, and e-criminals will continue to improve on ways to get around them. Your best defense is education – and a little common sense. If you don't know the sender of an e-mail, don't click on the imbedded link or download an attachment. Legitimate e-mails from companies and banks you do business with won't include links to your personal account.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|