“Phishing” Scams Target Military Credit Card Holders








DATE OF REPORT:  9 Aug 2004       


 SUBJECT:  “Phishing” Scams Target Military Credit Card Holders  

TO:  All AFOSI Units (Cat III)


IN BRIEF:  Recently, several suspicious email messages have been forwarded to the Fraud Operations office, HQ AFOSI.  The messages appear to come from a legitimate company and inform the recipient that their account (credit card, debit card, checking, etc.) may have compromised.  The recipient is directed to click on a link and then enter personal and account information in order to verify their account.  This is known as a “phishing” scam and both the original email and the link are fakes.  Some of these scams appear to target holders of the Government Purchase Card (GPC) and/or the Government Travel Card (GTC).  The following article was published by the Federal Trade Commission and addresses the scams and ways for consumers to protect themselves.


How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam

Internet scammers casting about for people's financial information have a new way to lure unsuspecting victims: They go "phishing."

Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with - for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but it isn't. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

·         If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address. In any case, don't cut and paste the link in the message.

·         Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

·         Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.

·         Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.

·         Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.

·         Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to spam@uce.gov. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. Visit www.ftc.gov/spam to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

June 2004


For more information about phishing and ways for consumers to protect themselves, go to http://www.antiphishing.org/.


SOURCE:  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/phishingalrt.htm, accessed 5 Aug 04.


ATTENTION OF:  All Investigative Regions, SACs, ASACs, Detachment Commanders, Agents, and all affected military personnel and employees (including Air National Guard and AF Reserve personnel).


SUGGESTED ACTIONS:  Detachments should be familiar with this information and should forward this report to base personnel (through appropriate base channels) as well as to ANG and AFRES personnel in the Detachment AOR.


DISTRIBUTION/RESTRICTIONS:  No restrictions, ensure widest distribution. 


HQ AFOSI/DOOG POC: SA Daniel Dahl, DSN 857-0296, Comm (240) 857-0296.


Page added on: 13 September 2004