Posted: 3/6/2017

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Spoofing and phishing tactics are nothing new when it comes to criminals trying to defraud others. But some scammers are evolving their strategies when it comes to tax related identity theft schemes and are setting their sights on new groups to target. Find out how to catch the scam before it affects your company or organization and what assistance is available if you are a victim.

w2 cash

Spoofing and phishing tactics are nothing new when it comes to criminals trying to defraud others. But some scammers are evolving their strategies when it comes to tax related identity theft schemes and are setting their sights on new groups to target. Find out how to catch the scam before it affects your company or organization and what assistance is available if you are a victim.

Executive Email Spoof

Crooks have been spoofing emails pretending to be company “executives” and send requests to payroll or human resource departments asking for lists of all employees and their W-2 forms or employee information, including Social Security Numbers. W-2 forms contain highly sensitive information and are just what scammers need to commit identity theft.

Previously, the emails were sent to businesses and corporations. Now it appears that the criminals are pulling the same scheme on school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare, and shipping and freight.

The scheme has evolved and now includes the wiring of money. The criminals send follow-up emails, again under the guise that they are coming from an executive, but in addition to the W-2 request, recipients are asked to wire certain amounts of money to an account.

There have also been reports of thieves calling individual tax payers claiming to be the IRS, and demanding that money be sent right away via wire transfer. They often threaten legal action or the involvement of law enforcement to coerce individuals into sending money.

Safeguarding Information and Finding Help

Businesses do well to create policies regarding distributing employee information and sending wire transfers. If a business or organization receives a W-2 scam email, they should file a complaint with Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) so we can warn other businesses about the scheme. The emails can also be forwarded to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov, with “W2 Scam” noted in the subject line.

Victims of tax I.D. theft are often unaware it’s occurred until they try to file their tax return and it is rejected because the scammers have already filed. If your W-2 has been stolen, check out BCA’s guide, “Warning Signs of Tax-Related I.D. Theft and How to Protect Yourself”.  We also have resources for tax professionals in our “Tax Professionals Can Help Victims of Tax I.D. Theft” guide.

As cybercriminals use more sophisticated tactics to steal information and money from taxpayers, it is important that information is shared and alerts are put out to help stop these scammers in their tracks. Keep up with trending alerts and news by following BCA on Facebook and Twitter. You can also report any scams, fraudulent business activity, or unethical practices to BCA.

About Business Consumer Alliance

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.

Tags: taxes, phishing, scams

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