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High-tech crime forum to fight phishing

Irish banks unite

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Irish banks have responded to internet scams such as phishing by setting up a forum to share information on high-tech crime.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland has issued a statement re-iterating its policy of not refunding the victims of phishing scams. The bank has said "customers personal log on information is their responsibility and customers should never disclose this information to anyone".

Last month it emerged that a number of Bank of Ireland customers had lost €113,000 through a fraudulent email scam. One customer is believed to have lost €49,000 after responding to a fake email, while other clients lost between €5,000 and €16,900.

The bank announced on Tuesday that after reviewing these particular cases it would be compensating the victims of the scam. The bank said it took this decision "on the exceptional basis that phishing was not widely known or understood by customers and was a relatively new phenomenon in internet banking in Ireland".

The phishing scam used to fool Bank of Ireland's customers is a means of getting internet users to reveal private information necessary to access their online bank accounts. The fraudsters obtain customers' log-on codes and passwords for online banking using bogus yet official-sounding emails to direct customers to fraudulent websites.

Phishing is becoming an increasingly common problem among financial institutions in particular, who have consistently warned customers that they never request sensitive information via email.

In order to combat this growing problem, a number of Irish banks have joined together with the Gardai and other stakeholders in the financial services industry to make up the High-Tech Crime Forum. ENN has learned a preliminary meeting was held 3 August with several banks and the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO). Meetings will now he held every two months under the auspices of the Irish Bankers Federation.

However, a forum member told ENN the group was still thrashing out its exact terms of reference.

In all, eight banks will work with the group alongside the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Irish Payment Services Organisation, the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland, and the Department of Justice's Internet Advisory Bureau. It is expected that the PSNI will also be invited to join the new forum - a recognition that online financial fraud does not recognise jurisdictional niceties.

This new discussion forum replaces the previous system which saw banks share information on an informal basis.

The group aims to improve the banks' understanding of cybercrime and to find ways to detect and prevent it.

Educational campaigns will be launched to highlight the threat of online fraud to consumers, and the forum is pushing for clearer warnings about potential online crime on banking websites as part of its aim to increase general public awareness.

With the police authorities involved in the forum, members will reportedly have access to the latest fraud and cybercrime developments worldwide from Europol and Interpol.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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