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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Phishers’ target young consumers

    Students should be more careful when giving out their personal information and wary of e-mails and scammers “”phishing”” for their information, UA officials said.

    Many UA students recently received e-mails that appeared to be sent from Arizona State Credit Union. The e-mails asked members and nonmembers of the bank to restore access to their accounts by opening a link and entering their personal information.

    The e-mail appeared to be a part of fraud-prevention efforts by the bank, but the Arizona State Credit Union, and most all banks for that matter, don’t use e-mails as a part of their fraud-prevention efforts, said Paul Stull, senior vice president of marketing for the Arizona State Credit Union.

    “”We never will send an e-mail concerning those notices,”” Stull said. “”It will typically be a phone call or a letter sent in the mail.””

    The intent of the phishing e-mail and other phishing scams is to “”fish”” for users’ personal information, including PIN numbers, passwords, credit card information and social security numbers, said Kurt Fenstermacher, a management information systems assistant professor.

    “”There is no reason to ask for your PIN number or your debit or credit card information,”” Stull said. “”We have that already. It doesn’t make sense for an institution to ask that.””

    The average age of a person who falls victim to a phishing scam, via e-mail or in person, is 23, Stull said.

    “”It would naturally affect more frequent internet users,”” Fenstermacher said. “”Phishing requires you to enter your account info, and the majority of people who are used to online banking skew younger.””

    Younger people are more comfortable with filling out forms online and working with Web pages, where older generations would be more suspicious, Fenstermacher said.

    Banks and businesses are working at cracking down on the phishers, but it isn’t easy, and they appreciate the help of the public, Stull said.

    Some Web browsers and e-mail accounts are beginning to keep tabs on possible phishing sites and giving users an option to say “”this is phishing,”” similar to the “”this is junk/spam mail”” option, Fenstermacher said.

    A phishing scam in person can be more difficult to see through.

    Earlier this month, family studies sophomore Julianna Bradley was asked by a man if she would like to sign a petition inflicting harsher punishments on sex offenders. She agreed and began filling out the form.

    “”Then he started asking me my name, mother’s maiden name, social security number and stuff like that,”” Bradley said. “”At first I was just answering them, not thinking about it. Then I stopped and asked why he needed it.””

    The two men were holding a stack of voter registration forms, Bradley said.

    They told her they had to fill out the information in order to validate the names on the petition.

    “”I asked them which organization they were with and how I could know that they were legit,”” Bradley said. “”They couldn’t give me anything good, so I knew it was a fake.””

    Bradley took the form with her information from the man and began to walk away, and he told her that she couldn’t have it. She blacked out her personal information and took the bottom copies with her, according to the police report.

    There is no reason to ask for your PIN number or your debit or credit card information. We have that already.
    – Paul Stull, Arizona State Credit Union

    The incident was reported to the University of Arizona Police Department, and police told Bradley that she was right to do what she did because the men were probably scammers, Bradley said.

    The men were not registered with the college to be out signing people for any petition, and they wore no identifying company symbols or information like other people registering UA students to vote, Bradley said.

    Kelley Bogart, a network technology solutions coordinator for CCIT, said students are not as careful with their personal information as they should be.

    “”I’ve heard students on the phone with a bank or credit card company giving them their date of birth and social security number,”” Bogart said. “”Anyone around them can hear that. They need to be careful with that information.””

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