News

Phishers Targeting Your Tax Dollars

A new phishing scam is targeting debit-card accounts used to deliver government benefits payments in 15 states.

E-mails, phone text messages and so-called "vishing" voice-mail messages ask recipients to confirm or update EPPICard account data, directing them to a phony Web site. Once the scammers have gathered the account information, they can drain money from the benefits account.

"They are apparently targeting government payments" such as food stamps and child support payments, said Marc Salomon, a researcher at Cloudmark, an anti-spam company in San Francisco that noticed the attacks earlier this month. "It is the taxpayer who is footing the bill," he said, because the compromised accounts are held by states, not financial institutions.

EPPICard is a magnetic-stripe debit card branded by MasterCard or Visa to access benefits accounts. The cards are used by Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Each state uses the card to deliver the types of benefits payments it chooses. When a payment has been credited to the account, the holder uses the debit card for purchases and the payment is deducted from the account. Holders also can get cash back from a purchase and withdraw cash at banks and automated teller machines.

The e-mails apparently come from the address [email protected] and direct victims to a phony Web site. "They are hosted on servers around the world," Salomon added.

EPPICard has posted a warning on its Web site of phishing and vishing attacks. "We will never request your personal information, such as a Social Security number, card number or PIN through any of these methods," the company said.

Cloudmark has spotted about 20 of the phishing e-mails and said that number is probably just the tip of iceberg. There is no indication the e-mails are specifically targeting EPPICard users, said Adam O'Donnell, Cloudmark's director of emerging technology. But he said this type of attack against a niche target is likely to become more common as larger targets such as banks and services such as PayPal become over-phished.

About the Author

William Jackson is the senior writer for Government Computer News (GCN.com).

Featured

  • Image of a futuristic maze

    The 2024 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    Everything Microsoft partners and IT pros need to know about major Microsoft product milestones this year.

  • SharePoint Embedded Becomes Generally Available

    After a six-month preview, SharePoint Embedded, an API-based version of SharePoint that developers and ISVs can use to embed Microsoft 365 capabilities into their apps, is now generally available.

  • Copilot in Microsoft 365 Getting Agents, Extensions and Team (Not Teams) Support

    Microsoft is adding more functionality to its Copilot AI assistant aimed at improving business collaboration, processes and workflows for Microsoft 365 users.

  • Microsoft Giving Startups Templates To Build AI Apps

    A new perk for businesses enrolled in the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub program aims to fast-track their ability to build AI-powered applications.