CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR TAX & FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS

Nonprofit Schools, Hospitals, and Tribal Casinos Are New Targets of Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam (IR-2017-20) March 22, 2017

Payroll/HR Department receiving email from CEO/CFO requesting list of all employees’ W-2s probably is new W-2 phishing. Cyber criminals are using various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive to an employee in the payroll or human resources department requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. This W-2 scam, which first appeared last year, is circulating to a broader cross-section of organizations, including school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare providers, and shipping and freight companies. In the latest twist, the cyber criminal follows up with an “executive” email to the payroll department or the comptroller asking that a wire transfer also be made to a certain account. Some companies have lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars due to fraudulent wire transfers.

  • Tax practitioner note.  Please share this information with your payroll, finance, and human resource employees and consider creating an internal policy, if one is lacking, on the distribution of employee W-2 information and processing wire transfers. 

If you receive this W-2 email scam, please forward it to phishing@irs.gov and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Organizations that receive these 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. The W-2 scam is just one of several new variations that have appeared in the past year that focuses on the large-scale thefts of sensitive tax information from tax preparers, businesses, and payroll companies.

  • Tax practitioner note. Tax preparers should also 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. Software tech support will not call users randomly. This is just one more scam in the never-ending parade of cyber crook scams meant to steal financial information.

© 2017 Vern Hoven

Vern Hoven, CPA, MT, is one of America’s premier tax presenters and speaks to over 100 groups a year on a variety of tax topics. He teaches at Western CPE Federal Tax Update seminars and conferences and produces self-study and webcasts courses as well. Vern consistently receives outstanding evaluations and has won numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious AICPA 2014 Sidney Kess Award for Excellence in Continuing Education.
Vern is the author of the best-selling Real Estate Investor’s Tax Guide and a favorite interviewee on radio, television, and in newspapers. His presentation skills have earned him the coveted Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association, which has granted only 400 CSPs out of 3,600 NSA members as of 2006.
Vern practiced in the public, governmental, and corporate accounting fields before starting his own public accounting practice in 1973, a firm that grew to one of the largest in western Montana. In 1985, he started his present tax consulting practice. CPA Magazine recognized Vern as one of the top 50 IRS representation practitioners in 2008.

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