Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Former PFG customers approached with Phishing attack

It was extremely disconcerting for NFA to learn earlier this month that fraudsters were soliciting customers and creditors of Peregrine Financial Group (PFG) who currently are awaiting the resolution of their claims by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Former PFG customers called NFA to inquire about the legitimacy of an email that was sent on October 4. The email requested personal information from the recipients, and insinuated that if this information was provided, they would receive $250,000.
Upon learning of the email, NFA immediately worked with the PFG bankruptcy trustee to verify that it was a fraud, and sent an announcement to PFG's customers to notify them of the email's illegitimacy. NFA also posted a notice from the trustee about the deceptive email on the homepage of its website to warn visitors and Members of the fraud.
This type of online scam is known as "spear phishing"—where fraudsters target specific groups of people who share a commonality and trick them into divulging their personal information via email. Perpetrators typically get hold of some form of inside information to deceive the list of recipients, like the list of PFG customers, and then send a legitimate-looking message, typically citing urgent and plausible-sounding explanations as to why they need your personal data.
Once the fraudsters have your personal information, they can access your bank accounts, credit cards and even create new identities.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests keeping the following points in mind to avoid becoming a spear phishing victim:
  • Most companies, banks, agencies, etc. don't request personal information via email. If you're ever in doubt about the veracity of an email, call the sender. However, don't use the phone number contained in the email—that's typically also phony.
  • Use a phishing filter; many current web browsers have them built in or offer them as plug-ins
  • Never follow a link to a website from an email—always enter the URL manually
  • Don't be fooled by the latest scams
Additionally, October is National Cyber Security Awareness month for the National Consumers League, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. According to their list of the top 10 reported scams of 2012, phishing ranked No. 4—the second-most common form of online fraud. The group suggests people take note of the following online safety habits to avoid falling prey to scammers.
You likely have heard the famous adage, "there is no honor among thieves." The venerable Sir John Falstaff bemoaned this very point in "Henry IV, Part 1." So please beware when you receive seemingly legitimate emails that request any personal information.