Phishermen net bumper catch of Americans

Hook, line and sinker

US consumers are still easy prey to fraudsters using phishing emails to lure consumers into handing over valuable financial information. In a survey sponsored by anti-spam outfit MailFrontier, 28 per cent of US adults were unable to distinguish phishing emails from legitimate correspondence.

Scam emails that form the basis of phishing attacks often pose as 'security check' emails from well-known businesses. These messages attempt to trick users into handing over their account details and passwords to bogus sites. The collected details are used for credit card fraud and identity theft.

First seen more than a year ago, phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated, directing users to bogus websites which accurately reproduce the look and feel of legitimate sites. Not that fraudsters need to be particularly ingenious.

MailFrontier's survey of 1,000 US Web users found consumers are still easily fooled by some of the earliest, most unsophisticated phishing scams. For example, the survey included a highly publicised PayPal phishing email which was identified inaccurately as legitimate by 31 per cent of respondents.

Email users are encouraged to test their own ability to spot phishing scams here. MailFrontier said it "offers educational tips on how to detect email phishing attacks to those who take the test" which turns out to translate into the offer of its nti-spam and anti-fraud software, MailFrontier Desktop. Well it has to get a product pitch in there somehow.

More altruistically, MailFrontier has compiled a useful catalogue of email scams here. Although phishing is arguably at its worst in America, European consumers are also a frequently targeted by fraudsters. The problem has prompted UK banks and police to team in offering advice to customers which can be reviewed here. ®

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