Zion Technologies, Inc. - News Flash: W-2 Phishing Scheme - February 2017 | Issue No. 6

Published: Mon, 02/13/17

Feb 13, 2017
Local Businesses Targeted by Phishing Scheme Involving W-2 Tax Forms
The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry issued an urgent alert on February 2, 2017  to all employers that the Form W-2 email phishing scam has evolved beyond the corporate world and is spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits. 

Here's how the scam works:  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.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES). 

In the latest twist, the cybercriminal follows up with an "executive" email to the payroll or controller and asks that a wire transfer also be made to a certain account.  Although not tax related, the wire transfer scam is being coupled with W-2 scam email, and some companies have lost both employees' W-2s and thousand of dollars due to wire transfers.

The IRS, states and tax industry urge all employers to share information with their payroll, finance and human resources employees about this W-2 and wire transfer scam. 

Steps Employers Can Take If They See the W-2 Scam

Organizations receiving a W-2 scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.govand place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Organizations that receive the scams or fall victim to them should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3,) operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Employees whose Forms W-2 have been stolen should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or the IRS at www.irs.gov/identitytheft.
Employees should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if the employee’s own tax return rejects because of a duplicate Social Security number or if instructed to do so by the IRS.

Be Safe Online

In addition to avoiding email scams during the tax season, taxpayers and tax preparers should be leery of using search engines to find technical help with taxes or tax software. Selecting the wrong “tech support” link could lead to a loss of data or an infected computer. Also, software “tech support” will not call users randomly. This is a scam.
Zion Technologies, Inc.

Thank you for being a loyal email subscriber.  We appreciate hearing from you.  Let us know if you ever have any questions.