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Thieves Use W-2 Scam to get Employee Data

Tax Tip Tuesday Financial Blog Post

The IRS is warning the country’s business community, about growing W-2 email scams. Payroll and human resource should be aware of the Criminals use strategies criminals to use to acquire access to W-2s, along with other sensitive data that companies house regarding their employees. The IRS wants to remind people of the importance of protecting personal information.

This W-2 scam puts workers at risk for tax-related identity theft. The IRS recommends that all employers educate employees about this scheme, especially those in human resources and payroll departments. These employees are usually the first targets. Here are five warning signs about the W-2 scam:

  • These scam emails often start with a simple greeting. It can be something like, “Hey, you in today?”
  • The thief often poses as a company executive, school official or another leader in the organization.
  • The thieves use many different subject lines. The criminal might use words like “review,” “manual review” or “request.” In some cases, the thief may send a follow-up email asking for a wire transfer.
  • The crook sends an email to one employee with payroll access. The sender requests a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. The thief may even specify the format in which they want the information.
  • Because payroll officials believe they are corresponding with an executive, it could be weeks before they realize a data theft occurred. Criminals usually try to use the information quickly, sometimes filing fraudulent tax returns within a day or two.

This scam is such a threat to taxpayers and to tax administration that a special IRS reporting process has been set up. Anyone who thinks they were a victim of this scam can visit Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers to find out how to report it.

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