The IRS is urging payroll and human resources departments to be vigilant when opening emails this tax season in response to an emerging phishing scheme. The email purports to be a company executive requesting personal information on employees.
This phishing variation is known as a “spoofing” email. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and information including SSNs.
So far, it has already claimed several victims after payroll and human resources departments mistakenly emailed payroll data, including W-2 Forms that contain Social Security Numbers and other personal data requested by these cybercriminals.
The following are some of the details contained in the emails:
- Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.
- Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary)?
- I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employee’s wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.
But employers are not the only ones being targeted during tax season. Individual employees are also at risk of these schemes. The IRS recently renewed a wider consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season and other reports of scams targeting others in a wider tax community.
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
WHAT IS PHISHING?
When Internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving your personal information, it’s referred to as phishing. Don’t reply to emails, text or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust. It isn’t.
LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES DO NOT ASK YOU TO SEND SENSITIVE INFORMATION THROUGH INSECURE CHANNELS.
For more information please refer to the following: IRS Newsroom