title:Internet Scams Add to Worries of Online Banks author:Charles Essmeier source_url:http://www.articlecity.com/articles/business_and_finance/article_6259.shtml date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:07 category:business_and_finance article:

The advent of the Internet has been a huge boon to the banking industry. Long concerned about the costs of doing business, banks have quickly embraced the Internet as a way of doing business with their customers without having to pay employees to handle the transactions. The Internet is open for business 24 hours a day and a “teller” is always on call in the form of a fully automated system.
Unfortunately, certain clever criminals have made the very notion of online banking inherently risky. Using a system known as “phishing”, these unscrupulous types have sent out millions of e-mail messages that appear to be from legitimate banking institutions, asking customers for personal information, such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. Many people have replied to these messages without realizing that they are not from their bank, but from someone who wants to steal information from them.
An even worse problem is that of “pharming” where malicious code directs customers who are trying to find a bank’s Website to a site that the criminals have set up that looks just like the real one. This one, however, is only there to steal information.
This has led to some customers losing money, as the crooks have been able to infiltrate their bank accounts using the stolen information. An even worse outcome is that there is not a bit more unease among all consumers about engaging in financial transactions online.
There are a number of solutions in the works. Some of them involve more detailed questions of customers as the log in, so that their identities can be more accurately confirmed and so that the customers can be assured that they are at the right Website. The hardware solutions are more effective, as they require that the customer use a physical device to connect, such as a card that displays a number that changes once a minute that only the real bank’s server knows. The problems with these solutions are cost and the problem of physically distributing the devices to the public. Internet commerce is still in its youth, and these problems will eventually go away as the entire system becomes more sophisticated. In the meantime, customers who bank online should make a habit of becoming more cautions as they use the Web for financial purposes.
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