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The United States Secret Service (USSS) is a federal law enforcement agency mandated by Congress to carry out two sets of primary objectives: provide protection for designated sites and events as well as national and visiting leaders, and preserve the integrity of the U.S. economy by safeguarding the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the USSS has more than 150 offices in the United States and abroad. The agency was established in 1865 as a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department to combat the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, the Secret Service received its second task: presidential protection.
The Secret Service protects the president, vice president, immediate family of the president and vice president, former presidents and their spouses, children of former presidents (until age 16), visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses, distinguished foreign visitors to the U.S., official U.S. representatives performing missions abroad, presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses (within 120 days of presidential election), other individuals designated by the president, and national special security events designated by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
After the events of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law, which mandated the Secret Service to establish a nationwide network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces to investigate electronic crimes. In 2003, the Secret Service became a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Today the USSS investigates crimes including credit card, telecommunications, computer and identity fraud, as well as other crimes affecting federally insured financial institutions and banking, telecommunications and transportation infrastructures. The Secret Service has been an integral part of investigating numerous headline-making incidents, including the 2013 data breaches at Target Corp., Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc., the 2008 Heartland Payment Systems Inc. breach, and the 2007 TJX Companies Inc. breach.
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