Government and businesses unite to combat phishing scams

The UK government has started requesting people forward emails they suspect are scams to the national fraud authority.

As Phishing and other scams become more prevalent, government officials and businesses are working together in a concerted effort to stem the tide of scam emails.

This comes as the BBC reports mass market scams like phishing make up one quarter of all scams but are responsible for 90% of all scam losses.

That makes phishing a very real problem for businesses and consumers. Recently companies in travel like JetBlue and Southwest Airlines have already seen their customers hit by fake scam websites.

According to the email specialist at Return Path, other travel companies can expect to be targeted by scammers as the practice becomes more widespread

Tami Forman, senior director of global corporate communications at Return Path, said: “Almost any brand that is recognisable is getting spoofed and phished.

“What the people who are sending these emails are counting on is that someone is going to recognise these brands when they see this email and therefore click on the link which will download a virus.”

Forman said after people are phished they become wary of any email or advertising offers and that makes it much harder for legitimate sites to do business.

This is complicated by the fact that the people behind phishing scams are able to make money from very low returns. Forman said a scam can be spread virally via any form of email or social media. The cost is so low that only a few people out of thousands need to fall for it.

According to the Anti Phishing Working Groups Global Phishing Survey, in the second half of 2009, there were 14,387 unique phishing attacks in the UK alone. Each one of these attacks has the potential to reach millions of people.

To help minimise their impact, Forman said it is advisable for companies to educate their customers about procedures and let them know genuine companies will never ask for personal details over email.

She said the only way to stop phishing is to combine customer education with services designed to quickly find and stop phishing websites.

When phony sites are taken down quickly and people stop responding to scams, Forman said criminals will lose their incentive and the practice of phishing will eventually die out.

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