13 October 2004

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MFSA warns on ‘phishing’ – a new type of internet scam

The Malta Financial Services Authority yesterday issued a warning on a new type of internet scam hitting Maltese surfers - phishing.
The MFSA reports that over the last few days it has received a number of reports from the general public on what appears to be a new wave of spam emails appearing to originate from international financial entities such as bank or credit card companies. These emails urge customers to submit personal information about themselves or to “verify” information that was previously provided when their account was established. Those tricked into providing their details run the risk of losing money from their account or even misuse of their personal details.
In a statement issued yesterday the MFSA elaborates, “The troubling new internet phenomenon is called phishing, a word coined since the practice involves fraudsters trying to hook potential victims from a sea of internet users. When fraudsters go on phishing expeditions, they lure their targets into a false sense of security by hijacking the familiar, trusted logos of established, legitimate companies. A typical phishing scam starts with a fraudster sending out millions of emails that appear to come from a respected financial services provider.
“From the e-mails reported to MFSA, it is evident that these fraudsters are capable of designing e-mails and websites to look like those of the organisation being copied. As a result, it is hard to tell whether the email received is from a genuine organisation or from a fraudster. Rather than create from scratch a hoax company, the fraudster might use a legitimate company’s name and incorporate the ‘look and feel’ of its website (including the colour scheme and graphics) into the ‘phishy’ email.”
The MFSA warns that users should not be fooled and if there is a suspicion that the email is not authentic, the organisation concerned should be contacted for the purposes of verifying the authenticity of its communication.
The MFSA urges the public to be extremely cautious and not to rush into responding to any type of e-mail with urgent requests for personal information.
Those interested in obtaining additional information about the scam are invited to contact the MFSA’s Consumer Complaints Manager (telephone: 80074924, direct: 25485313, email address: consumerinfo@mfsa.com.mt).

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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