In today’s show on the ABC I’ll be talking about Internet fraud and identity theft.
Firstly I’ll mention the more common Internet frauds.
1. Phishing – the term given to where the web sites of a reputable financial institution (usually a bank) is partly copied and placed onto the Internet. An email is then sent out to many thousands of people with a message along the lines of “We need to verify your details for some reason or another, click the link here and login to your account.”
(Note: the criminals are usually pretty smart and may try and appear to be from the sceurity division of your bank. I’ve had emails before saying “Warning, your account has been accessed by an illegal third party. Please login now and change your password.” That is another fraudulent email.)
The link (which I’ve just made to www.) goes to the copied web site that has embedded fields for your login details. If you enter your login details the criminal can now access your account.
Protect Yourself: Be aware that banks will not ask you to verify your details via an email.
Never visit a banking/financial/credit web site via a link from an email, web site forum or another web site. Type the address in yourself.
2. Pharming – pharming, which involves Trojans, worms, or other technology (including attacking what’s called the DNS system) that attack the browser address bar. Thus, when users type in a “valid” web site address they are redirected to the crooks’ web sites.
3. Straight Credit Card Theft – this one isn’t limited to the Internet of course. Anyone who takes your credit card for a moment – the local restaurant, shoe store or mechanic – has enough access to steal the numbers and expiry dates and even a copy of your signature. And do with it what they will.
Recently 130,000 Australians became casualties of a huge theft of data that compromised the details of up to 40 million people worldwide.
Hackers got into a US-based credit card processing company called Card System Solutions (they process cards for Visa and Mastercard). The crime was discovered by the National Australia Bank’s anti-fraud unit who then notified American authorities.
There’s about four billion dollars in Australia that is being defrauded each year and 25% of that is white collar crime. Credit card fraud is a big industry. Statistics in Australia show around a third of the fraud undertaken is from friends.
Protect Yourself: Only provide your credit card details to reputable companies. Analyse every transaction on your credit card for irregularities. Keep your credit card in a secure place.
4. Identity Theft – costs the US about $50 billion pa. Generally what people are talking about when they say “identity theft” is where the bad guy obtains your personal details and goes off and applies for credit in your name (of course they can also apply for jobs in your name, rent a house, etc).
Obtaining enough information to “steal” your identity is a fair bit harder than stealing a credit card, so it is a far, far less frequent crime.
The big problem with identity theft is that the victim is blissfully unaware of the theft sometimes for many years – but the results can be quite disastrous: ruined credit, threatened employment, unable to rent another house, etc.
In June of this year, The Sun newspaper in Britain announced that they had purchased top secret information on 1,000 British bank accounts from a crooked IT worker in India.