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The dark side of the Web

E-mail vulnerable to identity theft scams

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If you've ever received an unsolicited e-mail that appeared to be from Citibank or PayPal and that asked you to update or verify an account, you've been targeted by the growing wave of "phishing" scams that transform spam from a minor annoyance into outright fraud. Phishing occurs when fraudsters try to trick people into giving them personal financial data, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, passwords or Social Security numbers. Perpetrators use e-mail and fraudulent Web sites to fool victims into thinking their bank or another legitimate business is asking them to update account information. Victims suffer from identity theft, credit-card fraud and financial losses. Financial companies currently are the most targeted industry in phishing attacks, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, an industry association that aims to eliminate fraud associated with phishing and e-mail spoofs. Perpetrators mask themselves as banks or credit companies to try to trick reci...