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Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam Evolving: Targets Include Government Entities

Last Updated: March 14, 2017

A dangerous email phishing scam could affect you.

Cyber criminals are using spoofing techniques to disguise an email, making it appear as if it is coming from an executive within the organization so that the recipient (usually in the payroll or HR department) feels compelled to respond. The cyber criminal asks for a list of employees and their W-2s. They intend to use this information to fake a tax return and fraudulently collect an employee's refund before the employee files themselves. Cyber criminals may also be asking to wire money, and continue to evolve their scams.

If you believe that your organization has been a victim of these types of scams, you can:

  • Report the W-2 thefts to the IRS immediately so that they can begin to help protect the employees from tax-related identity theft. Forward to phishing@irs.gov and place "W2 Scam" in the subject line.
  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3,) operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


If you are an employee whose W-2 has been stolen:

  • You should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or the IRS at www.irs.gov/identitytheft.
  • File a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your tax return gets rejected because of a duplicate Social Security number and/or if instructed to do so by the IRS.


If your organization is lucky enough to have avoided such scams so far, there are measures to take to protect and prevent future attacks. You can:

  • Consult cyber security experts about how to establish a culture of security at your organization.
  • Enact policies and procedures safeguarding the handling of W-2s during tax season.
  • Encourage your employees to be safe online and avoid scam sites fronting as tax return eServices sites.


Questions?
For more information about cyber security, please contact your Eide Bailly representative or Eide Bailly's Cyber Security Leader Anders Erickson at 208.383.4731 or aerickson@eidebailly.com.



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