Monday, March 08, 2010

Don't Go Phishing

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute"

Phishing – spelled with a “ph” is not what you used to do at the lake during your summers. Instead, it’s a term used to describe an insidious form of Internet scam designed to steal valuable information such as credit card, social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. It is often perpetrated under the pretenses of an official communication from a trusted source, such as your bank, credit card company or online retailer. The email sent to you is the bait and it is designed to get you to click a link or respond with certain information to validate who you are or to supposedly correct an error. Many people take the bait only to later find that they’ve been phished and fallen victim to identity theft. Phishing is easy to do and it is becoming a common crime for that reason. California enacted a law in 2005 that imposes a fine of $2,500 per violation and permits the victim to seek up to $500,000 in damages but many say the law is still too weak on phishing scams. Until the law catches up with reality, be on the watch and don’t fall for the bait.