February 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

Phishing activity on the rise as fake sites, reports of scams increase

Online phishing scams lure consumers to bogus web sites to get them to divulge credit card and other personal information. Financial services are the largest target, but online retail now accounts for 6% to 9% of reported scams, says industry group.


Even some consumers ordinarily too wary to enter their credit card information online can be motivated to do so if that request is attached to an e-mail urgent message delivered from what appears to be a trusted source. Such phishing attempts that lure online users to fraudulent web sites so as to get them to provide credit card and other personal financial information are successful in getting consumers to respond in about 5% of cases, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

While financial services are the largest target for reported phishing attempts, representing 85% of all such reports, online retail accounted for 6-9% in Q4. Reported phishing attempts during the quarter included attempts to fraudulently use the brands of Amazon.com and eBay, with bogus e-mail requests for account verification.

The industry group reports that during the fourth quarter, the number of reported active phishing sites peaked the week before Christmas at 523, almost five times the lowest number reported the week of Sept. 25. For the month, the group received reports of 9,019 new unique phishing e-mail messages, an increase of just 5% over November, but representing an average monthly growth rate of 38% since July

“As a result of these scams, an increasing number of consumers are suffering credit card fraud, identify theft and financial cost,” according to the group.

The Untied States was the top geographic location for hosting all phishing sites at 32% of all reported sites, followed by China at 12%, and Korea at 11%.


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