Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad e-Conomy Good for e-Commerce?

E-commerce bargains to boost sales in US

A study reveals that because of the economical situation, US consumers are turning to e-commerce bargains and this could lead to a boost in online sales.

Nearly a third of the consumers involved in the study have revealed plans to do more research online to find the best bargains.

45 percent of respondents visit consumer review websites to research and purchase products both on the internet and in
brick-and-mortar stores, while almost half have stated that regular promotions are the main reason why they visit again an online store they have used before.

The study also indicates that 56 percent of consumers plan to cut back on their offline spending, while only 44 percent plan to decrease their online spending.

The study was conducted by affiliate marketing firm
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Security Hole in Payments Terminal Supply Chain

Javelin Strategy and Research » A security hole in the payments supply chain
written by Tom Wills

A security hole in the payments supply chain
Supply chain security is a term most often associated with the risk of terrorists planting dirty bombs in shipping containers. But last week it claimed its place in the payments industry lexicon when a big compromise of the supply chain feeding the EMV-based Chip & PIN payments ecosystem came to light in the UK.

It seems that criminals implanted invisible electronic components in a batch of newly-manufactured Chip & PIN point of sale terminals destined for the UK and other European countries, which siphoned off account information when cards were read during a purchase, then sent it over to Lahore, Pakistan where other evildoers captured it and proceeded to rack up “tens of millions” (of Pounds, which means even more tens of millions of Dollars) in bogus transactions. The tampering happened either at the factory in China where the terminals were manufactured, or shortly afterwords while in transit.
This is big, not only because of the major fraud losses involved, but because it represents a whole new threat category in the industry which will take considerable effort, coordination and expense to protect against. Think about it … how do you secure a factory that makes POS terminals (which is likely to be in a country where security is a big challenge to begin with), and the containers the products are put in for shipment, and the trucks or trains that take them from the factory to the seaport, and the ships that take them across the ocean to their destination markets, then another port and more trucks and trains, and the warehouse they end up in before being distributed via even more trucks to the merchants who finally put them on their countertops to take card payments.

It’s non-trivial, and judging from the magnitude of this incident, non-optional as well. And there’s the question of who will pay for all this security. The card companies may pressure the terminal vendors to take this on, but tackling it thoroughly is likely to be beyond their budget, or that of any individual player in the supply chain. I’ll be really interested to see how this story unfolds, especially if the bad guys feel inspired to repeat this kind of attack, which wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

Aite Releases Report on Money Transfer Compliance Issues

Aite Group, LLC Report #200810201
A New Report From Aite Group
Emerging Compliance Issues in the Money Transfer Market

In many cases, it is the unknowns facing the industry - rather than overly prescriptive regulations or overzealous regulators - that concern money transmitters the most.

Boston, MA, October 20, 2008 – A new report from Aite Group, LLC reviews key compliance challenges facing U.S. money transmitters, and examines the evolution of key issues such as AML, agent liability and enforcement actions. The report presents recommendations for money transmitters hoping to better prepare themselves for upcoming compliance challenges.

Money transmitter companies (MTCs) range dramatically in size, and therefore have very different technology and business process requirements. However, due to the risk of these services being used for illicit purposes, all MTCs face the same strict regulatory requirements. Among the greatest challenges to MTCs are that they face different regulations from various states, there is little organization within the industry to establish best practices, and there is uncertainty regarding future regulatory mandates. Money transmitters view their compliance efforts as competitive differentiators, particularly in terms of cost advantages they can derive from meeting compliance mandates effectively. As such, homegrown technology systems for compliance have permeated the industry. Vendor systems have begun to gain some traction with smaller money transmitters only recently, especially as they offer tools specifically to allay bank concerns over money laundering.

"Despite the fact that AML issues and related regulations pertaining to money services businesses, including MTCs, have been a priority for regulators since 2001, industry participants agree that regulatory responses are still a work in progress," says Eva Weber, analyst with Aite Group and author of this report. "Obligations around data security, privacy, anti-money laundering and payments require constant monitoring, and money transmitters of all sizes should plan for regulatory impact. Not surprisingly, it is often the unknowns facing the industry - rather than overly prescriptive regulations or overzealous regulators - that concern institutions the most."

This 16-page Impact Note contains three figures and three tables. Clients of Aite Group's Retail Banking service can download the report by clicking on the icon to the right.

Related Aite Group Research:

* Trends in Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Evolving Practices and Strategies
* Resources for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Retail Banks on Technology and Staffing Trends
* Competing in Money Transfers: A Market Overview

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Google Checkout and PayPal Partnership?

De-emphasis Of Google Checkout Could Signal Partnership With PayPal

If Google continues to de-emphasize Google Checkout, it could mean a partnership with eBay's PayPal, according to a UBS Investment research note published Friday.

Google is not marketing Google Checkout as aggressively as it has in the past, and the equity firm doesn't expect that the Mountain View, Calif. company will do any couponing this year. Google, rather, is waiting to see if Checkout can gain traction without being pushed too hard.

UBS suggests the change may imply a potential partnership with PayPal is possible. The online auction site reported a disappointing fourth-quarter outlook on Thursday, followed by J.P. Morgan Securities downgrading eBay's stock, while several other brokerages cut the target price

Western Union Teams with Orascom Telecom for Mobile Remittance

Western Union, Orascom to Pilot Mobile Money Transfer Service

Western Union has announced that it has created an alliance with Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E. ("Orascom Telecom"), one of the largest mobile operators in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, to work together to introduce mobile remittance services in select markets. According to the companies, "the services aim to make low-principal, high-frequency remittances more convenient to the millions of consumers who send money every day."

Orascom Telecom, which was established in 1998, operates six mobile networks with a combined total of 77 million subscribers, including Djezzy in Algeria, Mobilink in Pakistan, Mobinil in Egypt, Tunisiana in Tunisia, Banglalink in Bangladesh, and Telecel Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe. In addition, in early 2008, Orascom Telecom acquired a license in North Korea to operate mobile services.

"Orascom Telecom mobile networks are in areas with high populations of people who have limited access to financial services," said Naguib Sawiris, Orascom Telecom Chairman and CEO. "We believe this alliance, supported by our current mobile subscribers throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, presents an effortless method to bring financial services to many of the world's families for the first time."

Western Union, together with its affiliates Orlandi Valuta and Vigo, maintains the industry's largest global money transfer Agent network with more than 355,000 locations in over 200 countries and territories.

"As the need for remittances continues to grow, so does the desire for new channels to conduct quick, convenient and affordable money transfers," said Gail Galuppo, Western Union Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "Western Union is already offering this convenience with mobile money transfers from select locations, and we look forward to working with Orascom Telecom to offer this option to their subscribers in the future."

Several of the countries where Orascom Telecom operates are among the top receivers of remittances in the world. For example, according to the World Bank, Bangladesh received US$6.6 billion in remittances in 2007; Pakistan received US$6.1 billion, and Egypt received US$5.9 billion.

The Western Union(R) mobile money transfer service is currently available from select Western Union Agent locations in the United States, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe to Globe Telecom and Smart Communications subscribers in the Philippines.

The mobile money transfer service connects mobile operators to Western Union's trusted global "hub" for processing cross-border remittances. Once connected to Western Union's service, mobile operators use their own "mobile wallet" software to enable person-to-person mobile money transfers over Western Union's global remittance network. The Mobile Money Transfer service enables consumers to transfer money to or from mobile wallets and is being introduced into the global network of Western Union Agent locations for cash-to-mobile and mobile-to-cash transactions.

The agreement with Orascom Telecom is part of the pilot program of Western Union and the GSM Association, a global trade association representing over 750 GSM mobile phone operators, to facilitate the development of cross-border mobile money transfer services.

Bad News for Bloggers?

I don't readily agree with this article. Sure, there are a couple blogs that are "mainstream," "for instance, the left-leaning Huffington Post and Daily Kos.   

My take is that most bloggers cover news and offer insights on  a specific or specialized subject they are personally familiar with, whereas with "
mainstream media"  the exact opposite is true.

In my view the "Paparazzi" would be a much closer analogy to "mainstream media" than bloggers.   

However the point is well-taken.  I think what they're trying to say is that  blogging has gone from a "Deep Thoughts" philosophy, to a more information based professional format, and readers have subscribed to that change in droves.

Blogging Becomes Mainstream - eMarketer  Paul Verna, Senior Analyst

Blogging has become so pervasive and influential that the lines between blogging and the mainstream media have disappeared.  That is the main finding of a Technorati-sponsored survey of bloggers conducted in July and August 2008 by Decipher.

“Blogs are now mainstream media,” said Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, in an interview with eMarketer. “We’ve certainly seen that with the number of professional, semiprofessional and passion/enthusiast bloggers who are creating real media experiences. At the same time, you’re also seeing mainstream media come the other direction to add blog content.”

comScore Media Metrix found that blogs had 77 million unique visitors in the US in August 2008.

Among the Technorati survey’s own findings, one of the more eye-opening ones was a 2-to-1 male/female ratio among bloggers worldwide.  A closer look at the gender breakdown by geography shows that bloggers in Europe and Asia skewed even more heavily male (73% each), while US bloggers showed a less drastic gender split, with 57% males and 43% females.

Demographic and E-Business Profile of Bloggers in Asia, Europe and the US, July-August 2008 (% of respondents)

Mr. Jalichandra acknowledged that the gender skew could be at least partially attributed to “the type of people that come to Technorati and register.” In other words, if Technorati’s user base leans male, then its survey data would naturally reflect that bias.

Another important caveat to the gender data is that the “State of the Blogosphere” report was limited to adults. Other surveys of blog use among US teenagers indicate that younger bloggers are predominantly female.

One-third of respondents had been contacted by a brand or agency to be a brand advocate. That number correlates closely with the percentages of bloggers worldwide who frequently share personal experiences with companies or brands (34%) and frequently include product reviews (37%).

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Visa's 1st Annual SH Meeting called Non-Event

Visa's First Annual Shareholder Meeting a Non-Event - Seeking Alpha

Matthew Rafat writes for Seeking Alpha on Visa's "First Ever" Annual Meeting and what a complete letdown it was.  My favorite part of the article talked about him being accosted by Visa's "Investor Relations." for taking a picture with Visa's CEO. (below, in bold) It's rather humorous!
Visa's (V) first annual shareholder meeting was held on October 14, 2008, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. You would think that the very first shareholder meeting of an internationally known company would be exciting. Unfortunately, the meeting was anything but.

I spoke with a Visa employee prior to the meeting, who said that October 14, 2008, happened to be the first day that employees could sell their restricted shares. Given all the volatility in the stock market, it must have been an interesting day for Visa employees. (At least someone was experiencing interesting times.)

The food spread was small and consisted of the basics--bottled water, some drinks, and coffee. Security guards hovered around shareholders, which seemed strange--who is going to show up at 8:00AM at a shareholder to cause trouble? Perhaps the company was concerned shareholders who had bought at the 52 week high would arrive en masse, but the stock is still slightly above its pre-IPO price, so many shareholders haven't actually lost anything. It appeared that around 15 non-employee shareholders appeared for the meeting. One woman insisted she owned 4000 to 5000 shares, but didn't have a proxy statement or other proof of ownership. She was not let in. To give you an idea of the meeting's entertainment value, this incident was the highlight.

Shareholders were let into the museum's theater and saw Mr. Joseph W. Saunders, Visa's CEO, and Visa's general counsel sitting at a table in front of a blank theater screen. Eagerly awaiting some kind of presentation, many shareholders were let down when the informal portion of the meeting consisted of only ten minutes of Q&A. With 6 billion dollars in the bank, surely Visa could offer some branded trinkets (a notepad, at least) or a preview of its upcoming commercials. Alas, most of the meeting was just the CEO and CFO answering questions. I suppose for its first meeting, Visa wanted to take no risks at all, which, ironically, made it look like a small, unprofessional company instead of the international brand it is.

I asked about Visa's exposure to consumer debt. The CFO said Visa had "no debt issued to consumers."

"Visa is only a financial intermediary. It facilitates transactions between banks, shoppers, and retailers and receives a fee for its limited participation, called an "interchange" fee. If a customer defaults, the bank that issued the credit card is on the hook, not Visa or Mastercard (MA). For this reason, Visa has an almost fail-proof business model."

Collecting a fee for safely transferring money is boring, but profitable--again, Visa has 6 billion dollars in the bank. A shareholder asked how safe this cash was, given recent financial turmoil (e.g., some money market funds had "broken the buck"). The CFO answered that of the 6 billion dollars, less than 30 million dollars were held in illiquid auction rate securities, and Visa was in the process of unwinding those positions.

I knew Visa had some debt, so I asked about Visa's debt obligations. This is where the meeting became somewhat interesting. Apparently, the day before the meeting, Visa settled litigation involving Discover Card (DFS). Some of you might remember that Discover, American Express (AXP), and a collection of retailers had sued Visa, Mastercard and several issuing banks alleging anti-trust violations.

In a nutshell, retailers, especially small businesses, are concerned that Visa and Mastercard have virtual monopoly power because banks may have colluded with the two companies to exclude competitors. The plaintiffs alleged that the exclusion of Discover, American Express, and other potential competitors placed many retailers at the mercy of Visa and Mastercard, who could increase interchange fees at will. More below on the litigation:

* Anti-Trust Lawsuit
* Settlement

There may have been some truth to the allegations--we've all heard of retailers rejecting Discover and American Express cards. One of my favorite lines from Futurama has Fry trying to use an old Discover card in the future and being told, "Ooh, sorry, we don't take Discover." Also, Discover and American Express, unlike Mastercard and Visa, do have some exposure to consumer debt, perhaps to facilitate being more involved in the interchange market.

The CFO said the terms of the settlement required Visa to pay $800 million to Discover (DFS) at $200 million per year for four years. This is good news for Discover, which may see a slight but significant impact on its bottom line. (Read more on the impact of the settlement on Discover after the jump.)

I asked whether the DOJ or FTC was involved in the settlement. The CEO answered that neither agency was involved, which means government intervention may still occur. I asked whether any "non-financial concessions" were made as part of the settlement agreements. The CEO answered with a resounding, "No."

After the meeting, the CEO Saunders was gracious enough to grant me a picture with him. Mr. Saunders seems like a genuinely decent person and lacks any trace of arrogance. Another shareholder said he reminded her of "bread and butter America and the Midwest," and it's an indication of the kind of respect Mr. Saunders inspires. I have no idea whether Mr. Saunders is from the Midwest, but these days, companies could use more CEOs who exude honesty and throwback values.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Visa's Investor Relations.

After I took the picture with the CEO, a woman from Investor Relations immediately approached me, telling me repeatedly not to publish the picture. Then, she took out out a piece of paper and demanded to know my name. After telling her she was behaving rudely, I gave her my first name and this blog's website address. The next day, someone did a search on my blog for "Visa." Why is Investor Relations so paranoid about a picture? One expects more confidence from a company that is supposed to have solid international standing.

To characterize my experience with Investor Relations, I was going to borrow Chuck Thompson’s line about being “blocked at every turn by an army of protective minions reminiscent of David Spade as Dick Clark’s personal assistant on Saturday Night Live”; however, the analogy wouldn't be exactly applicable, because the Investor Relations employee tried to block me after the picture was taken, as if my camera somehow had a way of morphing the CEO into Satan himself.

So, one last bit of advice to Visa: leave the Wehrmacht, er, overly nervous employees, at home next time. Shareholders, being owners, should be treated like friends, absent erratic or strange behavior. Attempts to block them from gaining access to company officers make a company look insecure, weak, and unprofessional. Let’s hope a company that relies on its good public image will teach its employees the delicate art of handling admirers.

There was some upside to being accosted. Investor Relations' misplaced energy produced an epiphany:

Visa's greatest strength--its ease of making money without taking on risk--is also its greatest weakness. Its business model is so simple, Visa employees and officers might feel compelled to overreach out of sheer boredom. Privately, another shareholder complained that Visa was holding too much cash and should return some of it to shareholders in the form of an increased or special dividend. Historically, companies tend to make bad decisions and acquisitions when they have too much cash. Symantec (SYMC) is one example of this phenomenon--just review its acquisitions of Axent and Veritas. Let's hope that Visa's CEO and top brass really are "bread and butter" American types. If not, Visa could be in for a wild ride.

To sum up, the first Visa shareholder meeting was a non-event. The CEO, CFO, and general counsel shined, even if no one else did. Next time, if Visa has a video or pays more attention to the informal part of its presentation, shareholders might feel more vindicated for getting up at 6AM to catch the train to San Francisco. Another shareholder gently admonished Visa for not introducing its Board of Directors, as is customary at shareholder meetings. The CEO indicated he appreciated the advice and would remember to do it next year. Because it's Visa's first year being public, Visa gets a pass for having a dull, ordinary meeting. In the future, however, shareholders should hope that Visa settles into its new public skin and acts more confident.

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ProPay to be Offered on eBay Along with PayPal

ProPay Reveals Details of New PayPal Alternative on eBay
In a policy change that takes effect this week, eBay is requiring sellers to accept only electronic forms of payment and disallowing the overt use of checks and money orders its site. Sellers will be allowed to advertise only PayPal, ProPay and direct credit or debit card payment via a merchant credit card account in their listings. (Some categories are excluded, such as Mature Audiences and Real Estate, and "Payment on pick-up" is also an option but does not cover sellers under the eBay's Seller Protection Plan.)

eBay is allowing PayPal competitor ProPay to integrate with its website, and this week, ProPay revealed the details of its new pricing plans for sellers.  ProPay, which has offered online payment processing to merchants since 1997, has developed a custom pricing plan specifically for integration on eBay, with lower processing rates than it previously offered. However, the plan is currently available only to eBay PowerSellers who are in the Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers, and is only available to U.S. eBay sellers. ProPay will open its services to Bronze PowerSellers early next year. The integration of ProPay into eBay's seller tools is scheduled for this week.

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Businesses Told to Treat Card Data Like Cash

Treat card data like cash, businesses warned | 20 Oct 2008 |
Businesses put themselves at risk of fraud by failing to put the same level of security around credit and debit card data as they use for cash.

"Many businesses still do not view card payment data as cash in hand, which it is," Connie Penn who chairs the Forum for Chip and Pin for the hospitality industry and manages the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) program for the Post Office.

No company would move cash without physical security, but many still question the need to encrypt card data, she said.  "It fascinates me that they do not see card data as cash, and yet it is. Every merchant employs tight business practices around their cash, but they don't do the same with card data."

This needs to change, particularly as the number of card-based transactions continue to increase, she said, making it more important than ever for merchants to follow best practices in the PCI DSS.

According to Penn, the latest version of the PCI DSS, released on 8 October, is much easier to use than previous versions. "Version 1.2 provides greater consistency and removes a lot of the ambiguity that was causing difficulty," she said.

Penn is to run through the details of each of the standard's redrafted 12 requirements with members of business IT user group the Corporate IT Forum, in London on 30 October.  "My message will be that there is nothing to fear because the good news about version 1.2 is that it gives a lot more clarity on what businesses must do to conform to the standard," she said.

Version 1.2 clarifies, for example, that all operating systems used for card payment processing must run anti-virus software, and not just Microsoft Windows as many users had thought.

The new version also gives a clear cut off date for switching from the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) security algorithm for wireless networks to the stronger Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) standard.

No new WEP implementations will be allowed from 31 March 2009, and the use of WEP wireless networks must be discontinued by 30 June 2010.

These are two of the two most important of the 100-plus clarifications and explanations that Penn is to discuss at the Corporate IT Forum workshop later this month.  It will be another two years before another version of the standard is released, but the PCI Security Standards Council will publish best practice guidelines as threats emerge.

In the coming year, for example, the council is to set up special interest groups to discuss what should be done to protect virtual machines used in processing card payments.  "These discussions will result in best practices based on consultation with all the stakeholders before they are mandated in future versions of the standard," said Penn.

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NY Times Says FBI too Shorthanded to Properly Investigate Financial Fraud

Image representing The New York Times as depic...Image via CrunchBase
F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases -

The NY Times reports Sunday about the FBI's shortage of agents and how it is affecting their investigation into the possibility of financial fraud in cases.

The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. Current and former officials say the cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation’s economic woes.

The pressure on the F.B.I. has recently increased with the disclosure of criminal investigations into some of the largest players in the financial collapse, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The F.B.I. is planning to double the number of agents working financial crimes by reassigning several hundred agents amid a mood of national alarm. But some people inside and out of the Justice Department wonder where the agents will come from and whether they will be enough.

So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars. (continue reading)

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Sydney Morning Herald on War Against Online Fraud

Your weapons in the war against online fraud
Photo: Frances Mocnik
Bina Brown
October 19, 2008

Taking pre-emptive action will ensure your personal details don't fall into the wrong hands, writes Bina Brown.

With many people posting or sending everything from their shoe size to their dog's name on the internet, it's not hard for someone to get enough details to assume an identity and commit fraud. Criminals require only your name, date of birth and address to create havoc.

Armed with the right information, fraudsters - operating online and in the real world - can travel under your name, use your credit card for a spending spree and siphon money out of your bank account. In a worst-case scenario, they could use your name and identity to commit crime.

According to a 2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, 800,000 Australians experienced a form of personal fraud in the past year, with total losses of almost $1 billion.

More than 500,000 were victims of identity fraud, the majority of which was credit or bank card fraud followed by identity theft.

Then there were the 329,000 people who fell victim to at least one type of scam by responding to or engaging with an unsolicited offer including lotteries, pyramid schemes, phishing and related scams.The average loss was $2160 and that doesn't include the inconvenience and stress of proving one's innocence.


Losing your credit card is the most obvious way to expose yourself to credit card fraud.

Another way is for scammers operating over the internet to use spyware or some other scam to obtain your credit card details. It is possible for them to steal your credit card numbers and the security code, which are all they need to buy things over the internet or the telephone.

According to SCAMwatch, a scammer who knows your PIN could get cash advances from an ATM using a "cloned" credit card, where your details have been copied onto the magnetic strip of another card.

Prevention The best way to stop anyone getting access to your credit card or bank account details is to never send money or account details to anyone you do not trust.

If you are paying over the internet by credit card, make sure the site you are using is secure. Look for the locked padlock icon on a website or "https" in the address.
Checking bank account and credit card statements will help identify any unexpected transactions.
Choose passwords that would be difficult for anyone else to guess.
Try to avoid using public computers (at libraries or internet cafes) to do internet banking.
Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email.


Spyware (also called "malware") is a type of malicious software scammers try to install on your computer. As the name suggests, spyware programs allow people to spy on what you are doing on your computer - the websites you visit, the files you use and the details you store. Keyloggers are a particular type of spyware.

Keyloggers record secretly what keys you press on your keyboard and send this data back to the scammer over the internet.

Scammers use these programs to steal passwords such as online banking passwords. They may also use spyware to steal other personal information from you such as documents stored on your computer.

They use a wide range of tricks to get their spyware and keyloggers loaded on to your computer, such as tricking you into clicking on a link in a spam email they have sent, or visiting a website they have set up solely to infect people's computers. Other sources of spyware and keyloggers are free games or music you can download. When they are delivered in this way, they are sometimes called "Trojans" - a file that claims to be for some harmless purpose so it can get under your guard, but in fact contains a nasty surprise.

Prevention Installing software that protects your computer from viruses and unwanted programs - and making sure it is up to date - is one way to protect against spyware.

Another is not opening suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam) or clicking on a link contained in a spam email.

Clicking on pop-up boxes can allow spyware to be downloaded.

Detecting spyware can be tricky but giveaways are new icons appearing on your computer screen or if your computer is not as fast as normal.


Phishing e-mails are those sent by criminals who want to steal your personal information.

The messages appear authentic and mostly purport to come from banks and legitimate businesses. They are designed to lure you into divulging personal data such as bank account numbers and passwords by your attempt to log on. Links within these fraudulent emails may also take you to fake or "ghost" websites that are designed to fool consumers. It may look like an authentic website, with logos and a homepage but it is in fact another way criminals steal your personal information.

According to the Australian Bankers' Association (ABA), most phishing emails do not address you by your proper name because they are sent out to thousands of recipients. They sometimes contain typing errors and grammatical mistakes, even if they include the banks' registered logos.

Prevention: No one should ever provide personal details, including customer ID or passwords, in response to any email.

The banks have spent years assuring customers they will never ask for private passwords.

The best way to deal with a link or attachment in an email that purportedly sends you to a bank's website is to delete it. Never click on it.

A really obvious red flag is if you get a message claiming to be from a bank you don't even have an account with.

Bank statements should be checked regularly for any transactions that look suspicious. You should immediately report to the bank any transactions not made by you.

Software that filters spam email will generally filter phishing emails.

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