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By 1 July 2009 | Categories: news

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Criminals are proving innovative in the ways they steal your identity and ultimately your money.

We are so used to logging on to online banking or receiving electronic communications from financial institutions that we hardly think twice about sharing personal information with what we perceive to be an official entity. Criminals use this trust to gather personal information for individuals by phishing.

Phishing is a form of online fraud in which conmen attempt to steal identity related information. In a phishing scam a conman/ organisation attempts to garner personal or financial information from individuals by masquerading as a reputable/ official entity. They do this via email- normally posing as a bank or some other financial institution that requires you to update financial information online or via email. Giving them this information is as good as giving them your money.

According to Dr Piet Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com, “Due to the broad appeal of SMS for business communications, phishing scams now also target cellphone users by using an SMS to initiate a communication. SMS phishing, or “smishing”, occurs mainly when customers receive an SMS from what seems to be a reputable financial institution prompting them to call a telephone number due to a possible fraudulent transaction on their account.”

As SMSs are not encrypted and they are rather easy to imitate, being plain text, they prove attractive to criminals. So be warned. Do not reply to SMSs or click on links embedded in SMSs from what your think is your bank. Never send financial information via SMS or offer information online using your handset- you may find your bank account a little thin on funds shortly thereafter.

For more on electronic scams read our Digital Hustle feature.

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