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The Privacy Lawyer: Which Kills E-Commerce Faster, The Cure Or The Disease?

Identity theft has reached new highs--or lows--with a resurgence of phishing, the entrapment of users to steal logon, credit-card, and other information, Parry Aftab says. Set company procedures so workers know when the requests are legitimate.

Avoiding Fraud
The large financial institutions have all been facing this issue. Luckily for its customers and other consumers online, Citibank has done more than face it. They've put the issue front and center on their Web page (with prominent placement of a link "about E-mail fraud" on their most valuable front-page real estate on They also have tips for Citibank customers and online banking and financial-services users (see sidebars) on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing fraud.

A spokesman for Citibank told me that when they first learned of the phishing incident misusing their brand, they reached out to their customers to warn them. When they discovered that some of their customers had been tricked into providing their financial information, they counseled them, one-on-one, and helped them close accounts and notify the credit-reporting agencies. Luckily, the first reported cases of phishing involving the Citibank brand came in October 2003, on the tail of the beginning of its identity-theft campaign. The marketing and public-policy gurus were already conversant with the issues in connection with that campaign, so adding a special layer to their consumer-awareness message was easy.

We all recognize that phishing and the next schemes Internet con artists and cybercriminals cook up can't be fully avoided if we're looking to make the Internet easy for everyone to use. But having a financial institution that is willing to step up and help its customers avoid becoming victims of identity theft online and offline is the next-best answer to locking up all online access. I am and will make sure I continue to remain a Citibank customer. In the cybertrenches, we need all the help we can get. And those E-commerce financial institutions that are the biggest help will earn and keep our trust and loyalty, online and off.

Continue to the sidebars:
Phishing Vulnerabilities In Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Plus A New Server-Access Ploy,
Phishing By Brand Name: Tips On How To Check For Fraud, and
Tips On Spotting A Spoofed Link

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit the Talk Shop.

To find out more about Parry Aftab, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

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