The IRS has issued an urgent warning about an old scam that has come back with a new twist. The W-2 phishing scam started out targeting large corporations, but has now evolved beyond the corporate world and is targeting school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits.
The scammers will use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear that it came from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the HR or payroll department requesting employee W-2 forms, and a list of all employees on staff.
“This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme,” explains IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
But that’s not all. Scammers have also been following up with another scam - phase two as they’re calling it. The cybercriminal will follow up with an “executive” email to the payroll or comptroller asking that money be wired into a certain account. Although this is not considered “tax related” the cybercriminal is coupling both scams together resulting in some companies losing not only their employees’ W-2s, but also thousands of dollars due to wire transfers.
BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic and the IRS reccomend the following steps to help fight this scam:
Remember, the IRS will never contact you by phone (unless they’ve already sent a bill first) or on social media. The IRS will also never harass you, or ask that you pay them with a gift card or through a wire transfer. If you receive a questionable email or one from a high up executive asking for any personal information related to you or an employee, call them on the phone and verify that it is actually them asking. Never call a number listed in the email or click on any links unless you’ve verified the email is legitimate; that link may be riddled with viruses.
Tax season is prime season for scammers, but you don’t have to be their next victim. Remaining alert to what is happening now is key to keeping your personal information safe.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic was founded in 1987 and serves 57 counties.