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HSFPP Weekly Update # 173— Groups addressing Phishing Scams
Message from Bob: Fraudulent e-mail scams known as phishing have not gone away, even though increased awareness and media exposure of this type of scam have sometimes led authorities to the identity thieves. It is, however, very difficult to prosecute because a significant number of phishers and identity thieves operate from other countries.
Note: Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a work-study student or graduate student to assist with weekly updates; as a result, we will have to begin sending weekly updates every other week for the time being. Also, I did hear back from the Federal Trade Commission; they said minors need to send a letter to credit reporting agencies to get their free credit report. If they have a driver’s license, they should send a photocopy of that, as well as providing their Social Security number and current address, in the letter.
Website Pick of the Week:
The Anti Phishing Working Group’s Web site provides a great deal of information about phishing; consumers can also report phishing attempts to them, via their site.
Consumer Reports WebWatch provides investigative reporting on credibility and trust online. It is an excellent site for looking up information on phishing and other dangers to consumers. 200+ businesses have pledged to abide by their five guidelines for improving Web credibility.
Activity for Educators:
Have students read this week’s article In the New$... and the fraudulent e-mail message that we’ve included with it. Then use the class discussion questions. Also use the quiz at the SonicWALL Web site, http://www.sonicwall.com/phishing/, to test teens’ knowledge in distinguishing phishing scams from legitimate companies’ Web sites.
In response to class discussion, let teens know that the best thing to do when they receive a spam e-mail or an e-mail from someone they don’t know is to delete the e-mail without opening it. Even if they only open the e-mail and do not respond to it, the spammer probably will be able to tell that the e-mail was opened. This tells the spammer that they have found a live person, so they will send more and more spam.
In the New$... Phishing E-Mail
by Robert H. Flashman, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
A new service for fighting e-mail fraud seeks to tap the wisdom of the Internet community: Anyone will be able to submit suspected scams for others to vote up or down.
David Ulevitch has just launched a new Web site, PhishTank http://www.phishtank.com/, to address phishing. Consumers submit messages to them that they believe are scams.
The Web site personnel and users then examine the message and the site to which it links and decide whether it is or isn't a scam. When an item gets enough votes and the margin is wide enough, it is either dropped or classified as a phishing message. To prevent scammers from trying to game the system, votes are weighed based on how long, how often, and how accurately one has rated other messages. PhishTank doesn’t have the ability to remove bogus Web sites, but the information they accumulate on these sites can be used by those who have the authority to remove them.
Scam artists send phishing e-mails to lead consumers to counterfeit Web sites designed to trick them into divulging financial data such as credit card and Social Security numbers, and usually their bank account number, in order to take over bank and credit card accounts. By making their e-mails and Web sites look like they are from real financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies, phishers often convince recipients to respond.
On October 6, 2006, eBay reported a new phishing scam, which tells those who receive the e-mail that they need to respond to an unpaid item dispute. See more information on this scam at http://www.millersmiles.co.uk/report/3545
The Anti-Phishing Working Group also has an excellent Web site to report phishing and pharming scams and to show you how to protect yourself. Their home page is http://www.antiphishing.org/index.html.
Source: “More details about how PhishTank works and what is coming next,” 10/06/06.
1.) If you had received the e-mail above, supposedly from eBay, would you have responded to it?
2.) Have you ever responded to an e-mail that links you to a Web site that asks you for personal information?
3.) How do you respond to spam e-mail or e-mail from people you don’t know?
4.) What can you do to protect yourself from electronic identity theft?
Activity for Students:
Take the quiz on phishing at:
Also click on the “why” link for each question you got wrong and write down the reason. There will be a class discussion about the reasons why some examples were phishing and others were legitimate.
Kentucky High School Financial Planning Program
The purpose of this Web site is to assist county extension agents, credit union educators, and high school teachers in improving the economic well-being of our constituency, beginning with today’s students; and also, to assist teachers in Kentucky in meeting KERA’s goal that all students become technologically literate. Weekly Updates are provided by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, and are free to all educators.