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Welcome to the NCW-Online Internet Safety Section.

Here we will publish information on Internet Related scams including how they work and how you can spot and avoid them.

{The term Phishing means someone is sending you an email claiming to be from a trusted Business or internet site when in fact they are not from the site they claim. They are trying to trick you into going to the site they have setup in order to convince you to give them confidential information which they will then use to defraud you are others}

Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Internet

Phishing scams, along with spyware, adware and viruses, continue to plague internet users around the country. According to a recent survey by Websense, Inc., the number of phishing scams grew from 221 to 1,518 in the period between July and November alone.

Unlike the annoying spam emails hawking exercise equipment and black market Viagara, phishing emails can really hurt you. Falling victim to a phishing expedition can cost you thousands of dollars and give the thieves access to all of your personal information. Recovering from one of these attacks can be extremely costly in terms of both time and money.

In recent months, the perpetrators of phishing scams have begun to automate their financial scams. These elaborate hoaxes often launch a legitimate site like eBay, Paypal or Citibank, along with a popup window created by the scam artists. This popup window is then used to capture information and record keystrokes. This allows the internet criminal to gather such sensitive personal information as the victim's Social Security number, bank account number and credit card numbers.

While the credit card numbers and bank account numbers are valuable to the scam artists, and their victims may quickly find their bank accounts drained and their credit cards maxed, it is the Social Security numbers that the scam artists are really targeting.

There are literally hundreds of sites on the internet where Social Security numbers are bought and sold. This valuable information is used as currency by identity thieves around the world to establish credit, take out loans and create credit accounts in the victim's name. Often the victims of identity theft do not even know they have been victimized until they are turned down a credit card, mortgage or other loan.

As any victim of identity theft can tell you, it can take years to clean up the mess identity thieves leave in their wake. Clearing your good name and notifying your creditors you have been victimized can take hundreds or even thousands of hours, and lots of money as well.

You may be asking why internet service provides, software manufacturers and the government have not been able to make a dent in the phishing phenomenon. Some headway has been made, but phishing scam artists continue to stay a step ahead, communicating information on each new security vulnerability they find. As more and more security vulnerabilities are discovered, the threat continues to grow. Internet service providers and technology companies are working hard to combat this growing threat.

Many security experts recommend using an alternative browser such as Firefox. While this is certainly a good first step, it may not be sufficient to eliminate the problem posed by phishing, spyware, adware and email viruses.

It is essential that internet users be proactive in protecting themselves against the threats they encounter while online. While email is an important tool for communication, any unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source, should be viewed with a level of suspicion. Always remember that your bank will not need to verify your Social Security number, account number or other sensitive information. Likewise, eBay and other online auction sites will not need to request your userid and password. They will already have this information.

If you are unsure or uneasy about providing information solicited in an email, always call the sender to verify the communication. If the email is legitimate, you can put your mind at ease. If the email is a phishing attempt, you will avoid being victimized and give the bank advance notice that they are being targeted. Taking these common sense steps can prevent you from falling victim to these increasingly sophisticated scams.

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