The FBI has warned US people that threat actors nowadays use fake and counterfeit unemployment benefit websites to capture innocent citizens’ sensitive personal and financial information.
The sites employed in these attacks are designed to look like official government platforms to dupe victims into handing over personal information, infecting them with malware, and collecting unemployment benefits on their behalf.
In a public service message posted on the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s website, the federal law enforcement agency stated that these fake websites have a similar appearance to real websites that offer unemployment benefits and can easily be fooled for them.
Victims are prompted to submit sensitive financial and personal information on phony sites. Cybercriminals use this information to reroute unemployment benefits, capture user credentials, acquire personally identifiable information, and corrupt victims’ systems with malware.
In addition to the loss of unemployment benefits, victims of this behavior may face various extra repercussions, including identity theft and ransomware infection.
According to the FBI, 385 domains have been discovered, with eight of them mimicking government sites related to genuine unemployment compensation programs.
There’s also a good possibility that data obtained through these faked sites may fall into the hands of identity thieves, who can use it to commit different benefits fraud schemes.
In February 2021, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that the overall number of identity theft complaints doubled in 2020 in comparison to 2019, with 1.4 million reports filed in a single year.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also released guidelines for taxpayers in January on detecting theft attempts involving jobless payments.
According to the IRS, taxpayers who received Forms 1099-G for unemployment benefits they didn’t get due to identity theft should contact their state agency for a revised form.
Moreover, taxpayers can obtain an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN) from the IRS if they are worried that their personal information has been stolen and wish to safeguard their identity when completing their federal tax return.