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Time for W-2 Phishing Scams

The New Year’s holiday has passed. Now it’s time for cold weather, dark days, and filing taxes. Sounds like fun, right? Well, we have another grim thing to remind you about. Thieves will do anything for money. Not exactly shocking news, but your taxes are an easy target for criminals. You can file online in just minutes using your address and social security number, which means that, with the right information, a stranger can, too.

HR and Payroll departments need to be especially careful this time of year. If you receive any emails from an executive asking for an employee’s W-2, check with the person who sent the email. Scammers are spoofing email addresses of company executives to contact HR and accounting departments, trying to obtain any W-2s they can get their hands on. They usually follow up later asking to have money transferred to a bank account they control. A quick phone call to the executive who appears to have sent the email can stop a thief dead in their tracks.

Be wary of any phone calls or “urgent” emails from the IRS. The IRS probably won’t be emailing you anything, and if you do get anything from them, check the sending address. Chances are, it’s a bogus address from a third-party domain, like @Yahoo.com or @Gmail.com. If anyone asks for any type of payment over the phone, simply refuse. This is a scam. The IRS says, “…if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you're not hearing from us.”

If you receive an urgent email asking for any kind of money or private information, stop and think twice. Call the person who sent you the email. They probably won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Scammers are getting smarter every day, but they still rely on human error to obtain the information they’re looking for in these situations. Be the reason they fail. Pick up the phone and verify that email. Don’t send a thing until you know your boss actually requested it.

Be sure to share this with your entire staff, so these scams are on everyone’s mind this tax season! Stay vigilant!

 
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