2018-02-28 / Front Page

Better Business Bureau, IRS warns of W-2 phishing scam

The Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.

Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals do their homework, identifying chief operating officers, school executives or others in positions of authority. Using a technique known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), fraudsters posing as executives send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees. The initial email may be a friendly, “hi, are you working today” exchange before the fraudster asks for all Form W-2 information. In several reported cases, after the fraudsters acquired the workforce information, they immediately followed that up with a request for a wire transfer.

The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. Criminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post it for sale on the Dark Web.

The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Here’s how Form W-2 scam victims can notify the IRS:

• Email dataloss@ irs.gov to notify the IRS of a Form W-2 data loss and provide contact information, as listed below.

• In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable information data.

Include the following:

• Business name

• Business employer identification number (EIN) associated with the data loss

• Contact name

• Contact phone number

• Summary of how the data loss occurred

• Volume of employees impacted

Employers can learn more at Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers.

For more information, please contact BBB at info@indybbb.org or 1-866-463- 9222.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2018-02-28 digital edition