Computer Crime Research Center


Phishing bill

Date: December 19, 2005

"Phishing" is a computer scam that can quickly drain entire bank accounts of unsuspecting consumers, but it victimizes bigger players, too.

Now, two New York lawmakers want to give legitimate companies whose systems and identities were illegally commandeered to perpetrate such scams the chance to strike back.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Charles Fuschillo and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky would allow private companies, nonprofit groups and the state attorney general to bring civil actions against phishing scam artists. The legislation is being supported by Microsoft Corp., AARP and the New York State Telecommunications Association, among others.

Phishing refers to e-mails that appear to come from banks or other trusted businesses and are used to induce recipients to verify their accounts by typing personal details, such as credit card or bank account information, into a Web site disguised to appear legitimate.

"Banks and internet companies whose names are being used in these scams are as much a victim as the person who's identity is stolen," said Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat. "Companies like Microsoft could very effectively on a civil basis use their muscle to police the system."

Earlier this month, a study released by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance found that about one in four Internet users are hit with e-mail scams every month that try to lure sensitive personal information from unsuspecting consumers.

Of those receiving the phony e-mails, most thought they might be from legitimate companies _ seven in 10 were fooled by the e-mails, said the report.

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