Citizens are looking for W-2s, 1099’s, and various other financial documents in the hope of minimizing what they owe, or better yet, the possibility of increasing the amount the government owes them. While searching through kitchen drawers and filing cabinets, the Secret Service wants to add one more thing to the list of items to be on the lookout for…Income Tax Scams. From harassing phone calls threatening immediate arrest to sophisticated email phishing scams targeting those who let their guard down, tax season becomes open season for fraudsters looking to take advantage of law abiding citizens.
The Secret Service’s Global Investigative Operations Center (GIOC) is observing an increase in successful large-scale phishing attacks targeting unsuspecting victims. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to entice individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. The fraudsters will typically send victims an email that appears to originate from a credible source. The email contains a link which appears to be from their financial institution or employer, and requests a login or password reset. This link directs the victim to a spoofed website controlled by the fraudsters.
Recent successful phishing campaigns leverage all spoofed employer and financial institution websites to trick the victim into believing they are transacting on a legitimate website. Tax season is rife with this type of fraud. The Secret Service annually investigates not only frauds targeting victims expecting tax returns but also those aimed at human resources employees in an attempt to obtain W-2 and other tax related documents.
Quick tips on how to avoid these scams:
Never click on links embedded in emails or open any attachments from an unknown or suspected fraudulent email account.
Always independently verify any requested information originates from a legitimate source.
Visit websites by inputting the domain name yourself. If needed, then update/change your information.
If you are contacted over the phone, hang up, look up the phone number for the institution, and call back. Do not give your information over the phone.
To learn more about the Secret Service investigative mission click here.
-- United States Secret Service