IRS Alerts Payroll, HR Professionals of Phishing Scheme

IRS Alerts Payroll and HR Professionals to Phishing Scheme Involving W-2s

phishing, scams, spoofing, warning, IDENTITY THEFTThis IRS alerts payroll and human resources professionals to beware of a phishing email scheme that claims to be from company executives. Why should this matter to you as a reader? You could work for a company that may have been scammed. The fake company email requests personal information on employees. This is part of a surge in other phishing email schemes. It has already claimed several victims in payroll and human resources offices.

This spoofing email, a type of phishing scam, has name of the company executive, a CEO or CFO. The impersonator of the executive sends an email to a company payroll office employee requesting a list of employees and information including SSNs. In response to the email, the HR and Payroll representatives send payroll data, which includes employee’s information from the Form W-2. As most may know, W-2s have Social Security numbers and other personal information, which is just enough for a cyber thief to steal an identity, possibly yours!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen states,

“This is a new twist on an old scheme using the cover of the tax season and W-2 filings to try tricking people into sharing personal data. Now the criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll departments… . If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”

There are several cases that are already before the IRS Criminal Investigation for review. These include people who have been tricked into sharing SSNs with what turned out to be cybercriminals. These scam artists use the stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

The IRS Alerts Reveal Some Email Details:

  • Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.
  • Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary) as at 2/2/2016.
  • I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.

One Month Until the End of tax season.

There have been other reports of scams targeting a wider tax community. The IRS warned there has been a 400 percent surge between phishing and malware events so far this tax season. As a result, the IRS has renewed a broader consumer alert for e-mail schemes.

The emails are drafted to deceive taxpayers into believing these are official communications from the IRS. Not just the IRS, but others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics, asking information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Could You Be Caught in a Phishing Scam?

WorthTax, as well as any viable tax business, would NEVER ask you personal tax information. First, because if you  are our client and you would have already provided that information to us. If you believe your are being tricked into giving sensitive and personal information over, call Alex immediately at 781-849-7200. Worthtax has a Tax Identity Theft program ready to assist you in any three of our tax offices located in Quincy, Dedham or Weymouth.

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry are engaged in a public awareness campaign – Taxes. Security. Together. We are strongly encouraged to do more to protect personal, financial and tax data. Also visit Publication 4524 for other ways to protect yourself.

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