As the new year is approaching, small businesses should be on the lookout for W-2 scams. Not only are employees the most valuable assets at a company, so is their personal information. Scammers have come to utilize the businesses that the employees work for to provide the necessary information to collect fraudulent tax returns.
This scam usually starts off with an email from someone that appears to be in human resources department or from the executive level in the company. The email will likely have a friendly greeting to make the person seem familiar. Next, the emailer will ask for the W-2s of employees to be sent to this person in PDF format. You send the requested items over. Seems like standard operating procedure, right?
Weeks later, employees start the process to file their taxes. Unexpectedly, the IRS claims that most of them have already filed their taxes. Someone has filed taxes in their name, but how? That email that came from human resources was not actually from anyone in the company; instead, it was from a scammer that created an email address to look eerily similar to a known HR email address.
This scam has become so popular because it has worked well for the criminals in the past. The easy access to personal information by pretending to be someone they aren’t has allowed criminals to reap the benefits of tax refunds by filing fraudulent tax returns. The IRS is working to catch up to scams like this. In the meantime, keep a watchful eye out for scams like this and educate your employees on what scams like this may look like. Before sending any personal information, give the emailer a call and ask if it was really them that had placed the request. You can never be too safe when it comes to protecting the personal information of your employees.
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