Online phishing scams on the rise

A plastic "fake" fish

More than 20,000 online ‘phishing’ attacks have been reported in the first half of this year, as criminals increasingly target the popularity of online banking, according to the UK’s payments association APACS.

This is an 180% increase on the same period last year, and comes as other figures show the number of adults using online banking has shot up 505% in the past seven years, from less than 3.5 million in 2000 to just over 21 million last year.

One of the most common phishing scams is where people are sent fake emails alleging to be from a certain bank, asking them to follow a link and supply their online banking details. However, the website they are directed to is fake and the scammers can then use the information supplied to defraud their victims.

Despite the rise in phishing scams, APACS says online banking is still a safe and secure way for consumers to access their bank account. The chances of becoming a victim of online banking fraud are also very low – the industry’s 2007 fraud figures reveal a year-on-year drop of 33% in online banking fraud losses.

Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, says: “We strongly urge banking customers to make sure they remain wary of online scams such as unsolicited emails claiming to be from their bank, and to only use a fully protected PC with regularly updated anti-virus software and a firewall installed and switched on.”

Recognise a phishing scam:

• If you receive a phishing email claiming to be from your bank, a giveaway is that it will be addressed to ‘Dear valued customer’, rather than you personally.

• Banks will never send you an email asking their customers to disclose their PINs, login details or passwords.

• Never reply to suspicious emails - by doing so you are putting your PC at risk of attack from malicious computer viruses.

• Always ignore unsolicited emails offering you the chance to make easy money simply by transferring funds in and out of your online bank account.

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