HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Saturday, September 20, 2008

PHISHING BY FAKE BANKS - FAKE I-R-S MESSAGES

"Phishing" messages on the Internet by on-line criminals pretending to be banks and even the I-R-S are dramatically escalating. One Hillcrest resident reports receiving 45 within a one-month period.

It has become such a major problem nationwide and the issue has even penetrated the comics.

"'Phishing' is a scam that uses e-mail messages that PRETEND to come from legitimate businesses such as banks, internet service providers and retailers," said an expert in the Mary Worth comic strip by Karen Moy and Joe Geilla on Sept. 19th. Worth, the leading character in the comic strip, had recently become a victim of identity theft after having opened and used a phishing e-mail.

"Some scammers might pretend to be an online store. They typically ask for verification of account numbers or other personal info!" the expert said.

Banks and reputable businesses do not use e-mail to communicate with their customers, though they may use a legitimate website to sell products - but not e-mails.

The phising scammers will use a bank's actual logos and appear very legitimate. A recent e-mail alleging to be from the I-R-S looked like it had copied an official I-R-S letterhead to make it look letigimate; then asked for critical, personal information.

With a person's social secuity number and date-of-birth, a scammer can open a bank account in your name, or drain your bank accounts of all your money.

Identity theft is a major crime wave in the United States, and using fake e-mails, it is growing rapidly.

Do NOT open any e-mail allegedly from a bank or government office. If they want to communicate with you, then will do so in the mail, but never via e-mail.

For more information on protecting yourself against identity theft and phishing, contact the Privacy Rights Clearing House, 3100 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103 (Beth Givens, Director), Tel: (619) 298-3396

Author/publisher Sam Warren of San Diego also suggested those interested can also go to www.http//urbanlegends.about

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Copyright by journalist Leo E. Laurence, J.D. leopowerhere@msn.com or call (619) 757-4909

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