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Hurricane Irene Leaves the Water Prime for Phishing

hurricane irene email scam

Hurricane Irene will come with a hefty price tag. According to Reuters, economic losses are expected to total more than $10 billion. Most of the costs will fall where you expect them to: infrastructure restoration, insurance claims, lost work time and flood damage. But some of the expenses are less obvious, and they could hit you hard, even if you don't live in an affected area.

One of these expenses is the cost of cybercrime resulting from phishing. You've probably heard of it. You find email in your inbox from an organization that seems to be reputable, asking a few questions or prompting you to provide some personal information. You provide the information, and before you know it, the scammer has used this information to compromise your bank or credit card accounts. Because phishing attacks are meant to trick you, even the savviest computer users can become phishing victims.

Hurricanes like Irene are prime times for phishers to start attacking. In fact, they are so prevalent that the Department of Homeland Security sent out a phishing alert right before Hurricane Irene hit. During highly-publicized natural disasters, people check their computers more often, looking for pictures and waiting for news. People in the affected regions use social networking tools to get messages to family and friends. Public officials and credit card companies, who are often able to shut down phishing sites quickly, have more important responsibilities on their plates. As a result, these sites stay online longer than they normally would.

Here's how scammers can trick you into responding to phishing attempts during natural disasters--and how to make sure you don't get scammed.

Phishing attacks aren't successful without your cooperation. Being aware, especially during stressful times, keeps your money where it belongs--in your hands.

Resources / References

Reuters. "UPDATE 1-FACTBOX-Cost estimates of Storm Irene on U.S. states"

The Wall Street Journal. "As US Utilities Restore Power, Fewer Than 1 Million In Dark"

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team: Potential Hurricane Irene Phishing Scams

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