Beware of W-2 Phishing Scam

A Form W-2 email phishing scam continues to impact corporate employers, school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofit organizations. This email phishing scam can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns.

Cybercriminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. The W-2 scam is already circulating. The cybercriminal may follow up with an “executive” email to payroll or the comptroller and ask that a wire transfer also be made to a certain account. 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 due to wire transfers.

Employers can report W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS and Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR), who can take steps to help protect employees from tax-related identity theft.

The W-2 scam is just one of several new variations that have appeared in the past few years that focus on the large-scale thefts of sensitive tax information from tax preparers, businesses and payroll companies. Individual taxpayers also can be targets of phishing scams, but cybercriminals seem to have evolved their tactics to focus on mass data thefts.

January 29, 2018