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WASHINGTON – Credit unions and the rest of the financial services world apparently have more work to do in terms of consumer education about online threats, especially phishing, according to a new survey. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, only 29% of Internet-using Americans say they “have a good idea” what phishing is, while 55% say they are “not really sure” and another 15% say they’ve never even “heard the term.” Phishing, of course, is unsolicited e-mail that tries to dupe consumers into going to spoof Web sites and giving up information such as credit card numbers, passwords and the like. However, the term “spam” was firmly recognized by 88% of the respondents to the national telephone survey of 2,001 adults taken between May 4 and June 7, according to the Pew organization, a non-partisan research group. And, in perhaps a more positive sign about consumer online awareness, similar numbers of high recognition, 78% each, were reported for the terms “firewall” and “spyware.” Meanwhile, a couple of the newest Internet innovations also are still widely unrecognized among online Americans, the survey finds. Only 13% of the respondents said they “have a good idea” of what podcasting – downloading audio files from Web sites onto MP3 players – is, and only 9% said the same thing of RSS feeds (subscription-based automatic alerts to updates on Web sites.) “These findings are another reminder that new and exciting technology developments that seize the interest of industry officials and journalists such as podcasting and RSS feeds usually take a while to register in the wider public,” says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. “It’s also clear that public awareness of emerging online threats like those posed by phishing also take a while to appear,” he says. The entire report is available at www.pewinternet.org.

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