What's Your Tax Data Worth? About Fifty Bucks

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 7, 2017
Internet Crime

While identity theft can be a very expensive crime for its victims, it's actually quite cheap for its perpetrators, as buying packages of pilfered tax data will set them back only about $40 or $50 at the most, with some going as cheaply as eight dollars, according to Bloomberg. Stolen tax data gleaned from data breaches typically end up for sale on the so-called "Dark Web" (websites that require specific software, configurations or authorization to access) on sites that would look like any other online retailer if not for the fact that they hawk stolen tax information. A bundle of W-2s can go for as little as $7.99 or as much as $50 (thirty for the forms themselves, an additional twenty for supplementary AGI information). Pricing differences can come down to the quality of data: packages with full information including credit card information, address, contact details, Social Security number, driver's license number plus W-2 and W-9 information will be more valuable than packages without the tax forms. 

IBM has tracked a dramatic increase in the number of tax scam emails between December 2016 and February 2017, according to Bloomberg, with a spike of more than 6,000 percent. More general tax spam has increased by 1,400 percent over the same period. 

In other news, the IRS has reported that the data of as many as 100,000 taxpayers could be compromised, as scammers used a student loan application tool that allows students to automatically populate their forms with theirs and their parents' tax information, according to the New York Times. No doubt the information will soon go on sale. 

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