W-2 Phishing Scam Involving Payroll and HR Professionals

February 13, 2017

Akron, OH – The IRS has issued an alert of an email phishing scam involving W-2 forms. The targeted sectors include schools, restaurants, hospitals, tribal organizations and nonprofits. The scammers have been faking emails that are designed to look as though it came from a particular organization. The email can look personal – from a CEO or C-level executive. The email will include a bogus request to payroll or HR – asking for employee W-2 forms and tax details. The goal of the scammer is to gain personal information from an employee’s W-2, accessing social security numbers and bank account information. Phishers will follow up with an “executive” email to payroll or human resource departments asking for a direct wire transfer. Scammers have also been reported to be selling 2016 W-2 forms from these organizations – where they are selling the records for $4 - $20 apiece.

 “This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. Although not tax related, the wire transfer scam is being coupled with the W-2 scam email, and some companies have lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars.” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Suspicious of an email that resembles this scam? Double check with your organization’s executive about the request. Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Help spread the word by reporting the scam to BBB’s ScamTracker.


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