Email scams have become an unfortunate reality in our web-focused world. Unsavory cyber-criminals have become quite sophisticated, creating templates and schemes that seem undoubtedly real to those who are unaware of the dangers.
Payroll data, W-2s, and other employment files contain a significant amount of personal information, which — if compromised — can cause incredible damage to both the individuals affected, as well as the employer. Naturally, this is why scammers have begun to target employees and human resource professionals who have access to this vital data.
The IRS recently issued a warning, advising people of potential spoofing tactics criminals may use to impersonate employers’ executives, HR professionals, or management team leaders.
A good business accountant in Las Vegas knows what to look for when scam artists are lurking, and now you can, too. Here’s how this scam works:
Phishing for Information
In this scam, payroll officials are being tricked into disclosing employees’ names, social security numbers, addresses, and income information by way of phishing emails that appear to come directly from higher-ups within the company, such as the CEO.
Using this information, the thieves then attempt to file fraudulent tax returns. If they’re successful, they also reap the rewards of tax refunds on the backs of their victims.
The IRS is urging human resource and payroll professionals to strictly review any requests for employees’ W-2s or social security numbers, even if they appear to come from C-suite executives within the firm.
What to Look for
Although the emails can be varied, they’ll likely be similar in appearance, requesting the same type of information.
An email might look something like the following examples:
“I’d like to review the company’s earnings summaries for 2016. Could you please send me the individual 2016 W-2s for the following employees?”
“I need an updated list of employees’ full information. Please send me names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and salaries.”
“Could you send me PDFs of the following employees’ wages and tax statements for 2016? You can send them as an attachment. I need to review them soon, so please get them to me as quickly as possible.”
How to Respond
Our business accountants in Las Vegas will always tell you not to respond to suspicious emails. If you’re unsure, go straight to the source to confirm that your executives have truly initiated the inquiry.
Whether you’ve fallen victim to the scheme or not, you should still notify the IRS. If you’ve given out personal information, it’s imperative that you contact the IRS immediately.
Let Our Business Accountants in Las Vegas Protect You
If you suspect that an IRS scammer is trying to approach you, contact the IRS directly, or check with a professional. At Fair, Anderson and Langerman, we understand taxes, and we understand our clients. If you’re in search of a business accountant in Las Vegas who can help you navigate the muddy waters of tax compliance, reach out to us or call 702-870-7999.