Thursday, January 3, 2013

Scams and Swindles: Phishing, Spoofing, ID Theft, Nigerian Advance Schemes, Investment Frauds. How to Recognize and Avoid Internet Era Rip-Offs

Scams and Swindles looks at a wide array of Internet fraud, from phishing and spamming to sweetheart scams. Since many of these frauds rely on the victims not realizing that the information is false, it is  important for librarians to learn about different types of frauds so they can recognize them. Librarians may help their patrons to recognize frauds, but may be responsible for recognizing when a fraudster has targeted the library. Scams and Swindles is a good introduction to Internet fraud.

In each section, the author lays out the basics of the fraud, the identifiable symptoms, and then describes a criminal that engaged in the fraud. Each chapter closes with the steps an individual consumer can take to protect themselves and/or to report the crime to the appropriate authorities.

Libraries could be targeted as repositories of personal information which could be exploited by identity thieves. The author breaks down the five institutions that could be targeted for identity theft: incautious businesses that don't have good auditing procedures in place; careless organizations that let their customer data go missing; data thefts from educational institutions; data brokers who store personal records; third-party credit and debit processors; and insiders who perpetrate a fraud (p.6). The steps the author suggest to combat losing personal data include "The Four A's: authentication, authorization, administration and audit"(p.23), which is a simple outline to build a data security strategy on.

Though this book is almost ten years old, most of the frauds are ageless, or can be easily reincarnated. However, some of the websites mentioned in the book, as well as some of the legislation, has changed. In this case, Scams and Swindles is a good book for recognizing fraud, but not for combating it, though identification may keep many people from being scammed in the first place, which is the most important part of the battle.

I would recommend this for basic research into Internet fraud, especially if your library was planning an awareness program, but not as the comprehensive resource on the subject. The book also does not touch on job scams, though many of them are perpetrated as cash advance and spoofing scams. The book's accessible and plain language style will also appeal to readers who have limited financial or computer experience.

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