Using familiar tactics, hackers recently attempted to create copies of Avvo’s website, in an effort to fool consumers into believing the bogus sites were legitimate and tricking them into divulging sensitive personal and financial information. A type of “phishing” scam, cloning popular online consumer destinations is a common tactic used by hackers and thieves, and is increasingly easy to accomplish.
It doesn’t take much to fall for rip-offs like these, and consumers as well as businesses need to be on full alert. “We take this kind of fraud—and attempts to interfere with our users, many of whom are seeking assistance with important legal issues—very seriously,” said Josh King, Avvo’s general counsel. “While we hope that this is one-time thing, it’s a good reminder of the importance of maintaining vigilance when transacting online.”
Avvo has already obtained a restraining order to shut down the counterfeit sites (a more permanent injunction is very likely forthcoming), and as of now they can no longer be accessed.
The importance of verifying
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has good information on phishing and how to avoid being a victim (as they themselves were victimized recently), and consumers are advised to keep their guard up. “Phishing operations rely on websites that look ‘good enough / similar enough’ to the real thing, but are hosted on completely different domains,” says King. “That’s why it’s a good practice to always check the URL of a website before logging in and providing any personal information.”
As for Avvo, the legitimate website can only be found on the www.avvo.com domain.