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Net fraud: if it sounds 'phishy' it probably is

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Would we make stupid mistakes like this? The answer is that on the internet we might very well. Recently evillians sent out convincing requests to customers of some of the big banks asking them to send confirmatory emails with their security details.

Phishing, they call it. Lots of people like you and me did. The same people (no, not me) are now, apparently, extremely sorry they did. So just a reminder, again, never give away your financial passwords and codes over the internet - or the phone for that matter.

Credit and debit card fraud on the net seems to be no worse than in stores and restaurants, so all you can do is stay alert, deal only with well established e-companies and, for offline, face-to-face transactions, hope they soon introduce the card security they use in much of Europe. I speak as someone who was recently rung up at home by my card firm (the real people, that is) and asked whether I was currently shopping at a supermarket in south London.

Security again, this time about hotels - which I pass on from a reliable email source. Most hotels these days tend to use credit card door keys.You might have imagined that they contain a crude door number program and that the whole system worked like a credit card and card reader. The second part is more or less correct. The former is not necessarily the case. Recently California fraud investigators found that, in addition to the room number, door cards contained vital information such as the guest's name, address, credit card number and expiry date and when they checked in and out. Not a problem, you say, because you keep the card with you.Quite so. But this information apparently stays on the card until it is reprogrammed for the next guest to use the room. The best advice seems to be to hang on to your door card when you leave. Some who do may hope their spouses haven't secretly bought card readers.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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