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SMBs: The Other Victims Of Phishing

The number of phishing attacks grew 44 percent between the first half and second half of 2005, according to Symantec, in Cupertino, California. Some of that increase can be attributable to the holiday season, which typically promulgates a higher number of incidents, but the increase is still very significant, according to Dave Cole, director of Symantec security response. The number of incidents for the first half of this year is expected to far surpass the one billion incidents in the first half of 2005.

But although the scams are certainly damaging to any consumers duped by them, they can also have a devastating effect on the small business whose brand is stolen in order to perpetrate the scheme. Though of course the phishers are the criminals, any targeted firm can suffer from the negative customer reaction--and reputation--that ensues.

Though there is no silver bullet for how to deal with these incidents, here are some ways for small businesses to battle brand theft.

Report the incident immediately.
Notify the Anti-Phishing Work Group, as well as local, federal, and state law authorities immediately. Quick notification can help shut down the source of the phisher’s attacks and limit the damage. Additionally, reporting the incident to major search engines enables them to attempt to locate the offending servers and add them to their toolbars that are designed to block phishing attacks.

Immediately help affected customers.
If you hear from customers who have been directly affected by a phishing scam, provide them with information on what they need to do to ward off serious financial damage to themselves. For example, provide them with detailed instructions on how to contact the major credit bureaus, Cole recommends. Some businesses even take the extra step of providing credit reports free of charge to customers for a specified period of time.

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