Electronic Communication

Phishing is a way identity thieves steal your information by pretending to be a company, organization, or entity that you know and trust.

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Phishing is a way identity thieves steal your information by pretending to be a company, organization, or entity that you know and trust. Is that really an email from your bank, or is it from an identity thief attempting to get your account number and PIN?

How Does Phishing Theft Occur?

Phishing generally begins with an electronic communication, including email and instant messaging, that claims to be from social websites, IT administrators, online payment processers, or other financial institutions or service organizations. Through the email or instant message, thieves direct you to a fake website that closely resembles and feels like the true, legitimate website. Their website or email then encourages you to enter personal and other detailed information, which they in turn can collect and use.

What Is the Cost of Phishing Theft?

For the 12 month period ending August, 2007, an estimated 3.6 million adults lost $3.2 billion from the impact of phishing theft.1 It is also estimated that U.S. businesses lose an estimated $2 billion per year as their clients become victims.2


Information thieves can collect:

  • PIN numbers
  • Credit card or bank account
    numbers
  • Social security numbers

 

What thieves can do with this information:

  • Identity theft
  • Employment-related fraud
  • Loan fraud/payday loan fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Benefits fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Other identity fraud

 


Phishing Statistics:

  • 3.6 million adults affected.1
  • $3.2 billion lost by consumers.1
  • $2 billion per year lost by
    U.S. businesses.2

1 The Washington Post. “Soldiers’ Data Still Being Downloaded Overseas, Firm Says.” October 2, 2009.

2 Cnet.com. “Congress to Probe P2P Sites Over ‘Inadvertent Sharing.’” April 21, 2009.

Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.

Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.