Bank customers warned of fraudulent emails

Bank customers are being warned to beware of fraudulent emails aimed at stealing their credit card details.

A study from Barclays and security firm Kaspersky Lab has found that nearly half of Brits have received a suspicious message purporting to come from a bank, and 29 percent from an online retailer.

Nearly one in ten had been automatically redirected at least once to a suspicious site asking them to enter their credit card credentials, and five per cent said they'd actually done so. Four percent lost money as a result.

"These sorts of emails are a huge issue for all banks and our customers," says Alex Grant, Barclays' fraud prevention managing director. "The frequency of these scams and the professionalism with which they are orchestrated is ever-increasing. As such, it is an on-going challenge, one which Barclays takes very seriously, to try and ensure customers, and their money, remain safe."

He says that Barclays emails are always personally addressed - they never begin 'Dear Customer' - and also contain the last four digits of the customer's account number. Any documents included in the email will also be password protected, with information that's only by known by the customer.

The scam is known as 'phishing', with the criminals attempting to gain log-in information and bank account details that enable them to clear out the victim's account; and clicking on the link often delivers viruses too.

The profits can be considerable: earlier this month 27-year-old Olukunle Babatunde was sentenced to five and a half years in jail for a phishing scam that netted him £750,000.

But phishing is on the decline, thanks to the efforts from the industry to improve security - and to increasingly wised-up customers. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), the number of attacks attacks around the globe dropped to 73,000 during the first half of this year, from 123,486 in the previous six months.

"There are a huge number of threats to consumers who choose to bank online, but they shouldn't let this outweigh the numerous benefits it offers," says David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. "As long as people take a few simple precautions, and employ good sense, there is no reason not to bank online."
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