In the age of technology, identity theft, fraud and other financial scams are becoming more prevalent as criminals are finding new ways to obtain an individual's sensitive information. Peer-to-peer networks, social networking and even government-protected databases have increased the scope of personal information a smart scammer is privvy to. In response to the rise of data breaches and computer infiltrations, a number of groups have partnered up to launch an internet fraud alert program.
The program is designed to share information relating to stolen accounts and prevent potential losses as a result of online fraud. The initiative will offer a single communication channel for several groups ranging from financial institutions and government agencies to retailers. Establishing a universal information-sharing channel will be instrumental in alerting institutions to malware attacks and phishing scams detected by security researchers that may impact businesses or consumers.
Financial backers of the program include the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League, Microsoft, National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, eBay and PayPal, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Anti-Phishing Working Group and global payment routing provider Accuity. Most groups have donated software and technology to further this effort. Going forward, the program will be open to all companies that apply and prove their legitimacy.
"This program will enable the expeditious identification of current and emerging threats, which is key to the mitigation of compromised data," NCFTA president and CEO Ron Plesco told InformationWeek.
Citing research from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, InformationWeek said that the number of "unique" phishing scams doubled between the first and second halves of each year.
Every year, 11 million Americans report an identity theft of some sort. The issue is not specific to individuals who open emails from strangers or join social networking sites. Due to the high incidence of the crime, all Americans are encouraged to ensure their computers are updated with the most up to date security software. Additionally, individuals should safeguard their personal information and shred all bank and credit card statements in addition to any other documentation that may reveal sensitive data.
Americans that join social networking sites should take extra precautions by refraining from listing information that could be used to apply for a pre-approved credit card, such as name, address, employer or date of birth. Refusing friend requests from strangers may also be beneficial, as some scammers befriend strangers and peruse the personal information listed.