Identity Theft Phishing
You should be very careful what information you give on the telephone or in reply to an email or mail survey.
These methods of communication are not secure, and are very rarely if ever used officially by governments, banks or
companies to obtain personal identity information. Any approach by these means should raise a "Scam!" warning in
Identity thieves using this "spoofing" method pretend to be an official authority, bank or company in order to
build up your trust, and may go to considerable lengths to reproduce company logos, correspondence and websites so
that they appear to be the real and official organization.
So-called "phishing" campaigns use official looking emails to request your confidential details, and have become
more common and more credible looking in recent years.
For trusting people encountering them for the first time, these emails can be difficult to deal with, because
they usually imply threats of account closure or similar consequences if no action is taken. They have become a
routine part of using email for most of us "old hands", and it is too easy to overlook how credible they may seem
to a person new to using emails and who have had few exposures to identity thieves in the "offline" world.
Identity thieves do target the more trusting and innocent of us, and perhaps those of us who are more naive or
gullible. For a long time business has been built on trust and honest face to face dealings, but the internet
particularly has opened up opportunities for identity thieves to reach out to us anonymously across international
borders. People new to the internet have to learn to manage these risks.
Fortunately, many of the spoofing operations are carried out from non-English speaking countries, and this often
shows through sufficiently strongly in the spelling and grammar of their correspondence to sound alarm bells for
most of us.
You can also lose your credit card details by unintentionally giving away your personal details to an identity
thief. Make sure you have confidence in vendors you deal with over the telephone or internet. Is the transaction
through a reputable company, and does it use a secure transaction page?
Merchants accepting credit cards have their reputation to take care of as well if they are to continue to deal
with the credit card issuing companies, so they have strong incentives take a lot of care over providing a secure
and honest service.
By far the majority can be trusted. The risk is greatest if you are not dealing with a genuine merchant but with
an identity thief pretending to be a merchant.