Application security, Incident Response, TDR

Mortgage spam spikes due to Federal Reserve rate cut

Spammers have taken advantage of the U.S. mortgage crisis to intensify the amount of financial junk mail sent to end-users.

In response to recent U.S. Federal Reserve rate cuts, mortgage-related spam has jumped to 10 percent of all junk email seen in the past week, according to researchers at Commtouch, an anti-virus vendor.

During last year's fourth quarter, finance-related spam accounted for two percent of all unwanted emails.

The Israeli-based company warned this week that the adjustments, and other rate cuts possibly in the works, have created an ideal atmosphere for dissemination of financial spam.

The spike in mortgage messages has also made legitimate correspondence between financial institutions and customers more difficult as many anti-spam technologies have had difficulty differentiating between legitimate communications and junk email, Commtouch researchers said Wednesday.

Amir Lev, Commtouch president and chief technology officer, told today that he has seen a high number of false positives as a result of the spam surge.

“One of our employees really wanted to renew his mortgage, but the bank said they didn't get the email, and he went to the spam quarantine and found that many messages have been blocked there,” he said. “We took a few, and we found out that some of it is an inherent problem and in rule-based spam solutions.”

Spammers are using a variety of mortgage-related subjects to disseminate the email messages, such as “save over 50 percent on your monthly mortgage payments by refinancing,” “30 seconds could save you money on your mortgage,”  and “breaking mortgage news – Fed drops rates to 4.5 percent.”

Rebecca Steinberg Herson said Wednesday on the Commtouch Café blog that individuals trying to refinance should contact loan officials over the phone to avoid losing messages.

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