RealTime IT News

Holiday Joy and Fear of E-mail Scams

The holiday shopping season arrived this year with robust forecasts of seasonal shopping cheer, but along with the good news heralded for e-retailers came the drawback of having to deal with more Internet scammers.

So, e-mail identification company Iconix this week introduced its "Checking It Twice" program to help consumers identify which of those holiday e-mail messages are safe to open, hoping to help shield Internet users from e-mail scams such as phishing attacks.

"Much of today's e-mail is authenticated behind the scenes using industry-standard techniques," Jose Picazo, president and CEO of Iconix, said. "By adding an identification and visual display service on top, we make it easy for consumers to tell which messages are real."

The holiday season has become rife with Internet scams, in large part because of the recent growth over the past few years of online shopping. The Better Business Bureau has warned consumers to protect themselves online by looking for ways to verifying the identity of companies whose names land in inboxes.

Already this year, online shopping is off to a quick start, with e-retailers reporting a consumer spending increase of 24 percent over last holiday season.

Jeff Wilbur, vice president of marketing at Iconix, said the program will verify the identity of over 300 e-mail senders at no charge to either the sender or recipient. The senders include eBay, PayPal, financial organizations such as Bank of America and Citibank, online retailers such as Amazon.com and Dell, online travel services such as Expedia and Travelocity, plus airlines, hotels, charities and other large companies.

"We picked a lot of top senders, so users will recognize almost every name on the list," Wilbur told internetnews.com.

With the "Checking It Twice" program, a gold lock with a check mark appears next to the sender's name in the e-mail in-box. This Truemark icon indicates whether the identity of the sender has been checked twice: First, the message source is confirmed using industry-standard e-mail authentication methods; next, the sender is verified against a list of senders maintained by Iconix, according to Wilbur.

This double check ensures that the message is not a spoof.

"Bogus e-mails that try to trick consumers into giving out their personal information have a disturbing impact on legitimate businesses," David Jevans, chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, said in a statement. "Solutions that positively identify trusted senders of e-mail will help restore consumer confidence."