In sharp contrast to the harmless pranks that will be played on April Fools' Day, deceptive phishing schemes are no laughing matter. To strike a blow against criminals who prey on Internet users, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), National Consumers League and Microsoft Corp. today urged consumers to beware of phishing schemes aimed at stealing their identities.
Phishing is a high-tech twist on the all-too-common crime of identity theft, where spam or pop-up messages are used to deceive recipients into releasing personal or financial information into the hands of criminals. The FTC reports that identity theft was the No. 1 consumer complaint in 2004. And, for the first time, phishing appeared on the top Internet and telemarketing scams lists gathered by the National Consumers League in 2004.
Appearing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Lydia Parnes, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Susan Grant, director of the National Consumers League's National Fraud Information Center and Internet Fraud Watch program, and Jacqueline Beauchere and Aaron Kornblum of Microsoft urged Internet users to exercise the same caution when doing business online as they would in the physical world and called for increased consumer awareness of phishing.
News source: Microsoft