'Phishing' scams reel in your identity

The Web sites look real and the information sought seems justified. But it's really the latest form of e-mail scam, called "brand spoofing," "carding" or "Phishing."

The official-looking messages tell recipients that, because of technical problems, billing information and social security numbers for their accounts must be resubmitted. Scam artists recreate pages using information from legitimate Web sites in hopes of fooling consumers into providing their personal data. "Phishing is a two time scam," FTC Chairman Timothy Muris said. "Phishers first steal a company's identity and then use it to victimize consumers by stealing their credit identities."

Cracking down

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission filed their first action against a suspected phisher, a 17-year-old California boy who allegedly used a page made to look like America Online to scam people out of their credit card numbers. It's all part of the growing trend of identity theft, the FTC said. Reports of stealing a person's financial information surged 88 percent to 162,000 last year, from about 86,000 in 2001, according to the agency. The FTC and Internet security firms say companies hit by the phishing scams in the last few months include Best Buy, UPS, Bank of America, PayPal and First Union Bank.

News source: CNN

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