Phishing scams have long been used by tech-savvy criminals to obtain personal information from consumers. The most common type of phishing scams come in the form of emails, but online service provider PeopleFinders is warning consumers against a new scam that criminals are using: Tabnabbing.
Similar to email phishing, tabnabbing is another method used to trick individuals into inadvertently giving up personal information, such as bank or credit account numbers, Social Security information or passwords. Most internet surfers open more than one tab when they are online, keeping many websites open at one time. While usually harmless, criminals have created a new program that allows them to alter the seemingly "inactive" tabs while the individual isn't paying attention.
In doing so, scammers make the tab appear to be a log-in page of a site they may have previously been visiting, which asks for the user's information to get back in. The new page that comes up may be an email log-in, banking institution or other website that would require individuals to provide sensitive information.
Though criminals must be able to gain access to an individual's computer for this program to work, some users may inadvertently give scammers the opportunity through the use of third-party scripts. These scripts may be present on flash widgets or even downloads that appear legitimate. Once the script has been activated, criminals can begin the tabnabbing process.
Consumers can avoid this crime by opening no more than one website at a time. However, this can be tedious and many individuals that work from home may need to access a number of websites in order to complete their tasks efficiently. Therefore, consumers are advised to type in the entire URL name to get back into a website that has gone inactive. This remains true even if the website is a legitimate site that the consumer uses on a regular basis.
It goes without saying that consumers should also be wary of opening links or download requests from individuals or entities they are not familiar with to avoid rendering their computer inactive or downloading a harmful program.
As the number of Americans falling victim to identity theft grows, consumers should be careful about releasing personal information online. Criminals have developed a number of new methods to obtain sensitive information posted or stored in an online database, highlighting the need for stronger safeguards.