DebtWave Credit Counseling Warns Consumers About the Newest Form of Identity Theft

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The Internet has become a resource that has changed the way people do business, learn, and even communicate with one another. Unfortunately there are dishonest individuals that use the Internet to steal information from unsuspecting people. This new form of identity theft is called “phishing”. DebtWave Credit Counseling explains what phishing is and how consumers can protect themselves.

Recently an individual was brought to justice for committing a crime that is referred to as “phishing”. What makes this story interesting is that the perpetrator is only a minor. This is evidence that these types of crimes are fairly simple to execute and requires nothing more than a computer and some programming skills.

Phishing is a technique used to gain personal information for purposes of identity theft, using fraudulent e-mail messages that appear to come from legitimate businesses. These authentic-looking messages are designed to fool recipients into divulging personal data such as account numbers, passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

To make these phishing e-mail messages look even more genuine, the scam artists may place a link in them that appears to go to the legitimate website. The e-mail actually takes them to a phony scam site or possibly a pop-up window that looks exactly like the official site. These copycat sites are also called "spoofed" websites. Once an individual visits one of these spoofed sites, they might unwittingly send personal information to the con artists. The scam artists often use the stolen information to purchase goods, apply for a new credit cards, or otherwise steal identities.

The damage caused by phishing ranges from loss of email access to substantial financial loss. It is estimated that between May 2004 and May 2005, approximately 1.2 million computer users in the United States suffered losses caused by phishing, totaling approximately $929 million dollars. U.S. businesses lose an estimated $2 billion dollars per year as a result of their clients becoming victims.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, victims now spend an average of 600 hours recovering from this crime, often over a period of years. Based on 600 hours, victims lose nearly $16,000 in lost or realized income.

The following are ways in which individuals can protect themselves from being victimized by phishing:

-Do not reply or click on links from email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information.

-Be sure to use anti-virus software and a firewall, and keep them up to date.

-Don’t email personal or financial information since emails are not a secure method of transmitting personal information.

-Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails, because these files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken a computer’s security.

For additional information about this subject, contact Jason Cash or visit http://www.debtwave.com under the education tab.

About DebtWave Credit Counseling

DebtWave Credit Counseling is a 501(c) 3 Non profit organization committed to educating individuals on the proper use of credit through budget management, to offer sound counseling and to assist clients to reduce and eliminate debt. DebtWave is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the American Association of Debt Management Organizations.

Contact:

Jason Cash, Director of Education

DebtWave Credit Counseling

(888) 285-7624 ext.150

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Jason Cash
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