Anti-Phishing Group Targeting Fax-Based Scams

The heyday of faxing may have passed twenty years ago, but scam artists haven’t given up on the old technology, especially when it comes to wheedling personally identifiable information out of unsuspecting office workers. Now a leading anti-phishing group is tackling the problem of fax based phishing scams.

The heyday of faxing may have passed twenty years ago, but scam artists haven’t given up on the old technology, especially when it comes to wheedling personally identifiable information out of unsuspecting office workers. Now a leading anti-phishing group is tackling the problem of fax based phishing scams.

The Anti Phishing Working Group announced the Fax Back Phishing Education program this week to help telecommunications firms and Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) providers track and respond to scam artists that are using fax-ed, hard copy appeals and pitches to steal sensitive data. 

APWG was created to battle Web- and e-mail based phishing scams, which lure unwitting victims into surrendering personal information and account logins and passwords with realistic-looking pitches and fake Web sites. But Web and e-mail are hardly the only mediums for phishing. Scammers have found that fax-based appeals are also effective at getting victims to surrender personal documents and information. Often the appeals start with e-mailed forms that the recipients are asked to fill out and fax to a number that is provided. 

The Group announced last month that it would partner with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s Online Fraud Detection and Prevention (OFDP) group. OFDP is providing fax numbers from complaints registered to its phishing@irs.gov e-mail address and then works with telecommunications providers and FoIP providers to disable the numbers. APWG worked with OFDP to develop an automated fax cover sheet that can be sent to notify victims who attempt to fax a number associated with fax phishing scams. That cover sheet provides links to online resources, including Web sites that allow them to register complaints with the FTC.

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Discussion

  • Peter Cassidy on

    Paul, this is an excellent story. There is some educational philosophy behind this program that I think would interest you and your readers. I was driving to an appointment in Western Massachusetts when you called. Please try again any time and I'll make time for an interview. Thanks and regards, Peter

     

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