Number of ‘Phishing’ Attacks Increasing

In November of 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that approximately 8.3 million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft in 2005. In 10 percent of these cases, thieves got at least $6,000 in goods and services, and in 5 percent of cases at least $13,000. A Gartner Survey finds that 3.6 million adults lost money in “phishing” attacks in the 12 months ending August 2007, up from 2.3 million the previous year. Phishing is a form of online identity theft where emails and websites masquerading as official businesses are created and used to deceive Internet users into disclosing their personal data.

According to Gartner, the average dollar loss per incident declined from $1,244 in 2006 to $886 the following year, but because there were more victims, a total of $3.2 billion was lost to these attacks. The attacks were also more successful than the previous two years. Of the individuals who received phishing emails in 2007, 3.3 percent say they lost money because of the attack, up from 2.3 percent in 2006 and 2.9 percent in 2005.

Contributed by Insurance Information InstitutePhishing Graph 1

The Consumer Sentinel database, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, contains over 3.5 million consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations.

Colorado ranked 6th in the U.S. for the highest number of identity theft victims in 2006 based on the 2006 U.S. Census according to the Federal Trade Commission.Phishing Graphic 2

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