Email, cell phones, Facebook and now Twitter all have something in common: they are being used by fraudsters for phishing attacks. If you are a Twitter subscriber you should be aware of these recent phishing efforts and how to protect yourself. You may even have received a warning from Twitter in the past few days.
Here's the short and sweet (if I were really good at Twittering, I'd write this entry in 140 character segments but I'll spare you in the interest of getting you the facts):
Chris Pirillo broke the story on January 3rd: "Phishing Scam Spreading on Twitter" just a few moments after he received a bogus direct message email. If you've set up your account in this method, when you receive a direct message in the service, it sends you an email message. The scam messages, just like the phishing emails and Facebook phishing attacks, seem to come from someone you know and appear to be personal. The message bears a link to a website that only appears to come from Twitter but is of course a scam website where your account information will be stolen.
If you suspect you've already been victimized by this scam, change your Twitter account password immediately. If you have any trouble with this, you can contact the Twitter support team for assistance. They have a comprehensive blog entry about the issue as well, outlining the various steps they've taken to shut these people down.
If you aren't yet a user of Twitter's 140 character micro-blogging service, don't let these phishing attacks turn you off. It's still a fun and creative way to message friends, family and colleagues about your "news". You can also use the service to automatically update your Facebook status. Big corporations are getting into sending "tweets", as the short messages are termed, with Zappos.com and JetBlue among some of the earliest adopters. Many regular folks report that by posting comments about products and services in Twitter they have received direct replies from corporate execs offering thank you's or product support. The service is free and extremely easy to use. (I'm listed as "marianmerritt" in case you want to "follow" me.)