As technology expert Leo Laporte explained on a recent episode of his radio show, thieves often need just the password to a target's e-mail account to cause financial damage. Many credit card issuers authenticate password change requests using customers' e-mail addresses. Accessing popular e-mail accounts, like those on Yahoo or Hotmail, can give criminals just enough data and opportunity to initiate fraudulent credit card charges and cash transfers.
"Phishing" attacks often take the form of e-mail disguised as official communication from a bank, an e-mail provider, or a trusted vendor. Investigators warned consumers to use passwords only on secure websites reached through typing an address directly into a web browser and not by following an e-mailed link to a potential impostor site.
About the Author
Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.