recommended reading

IRS Warns to Watch Out For W-2 Form Scams

wk1003mike/Shutterstock.com

A couple months before tax season, the Internal Revenue Service has seen a marked increase in phishing scams designed to steal information that could help criminals file fraudulent tax returns.

In this scheme, criminals create a spoofed email, which appears to be from an executive within an organization, to a payroll manager asking for a list of employees and their W-2 forms. Once they receive a response, they're able to use that information to file the tax returns, the IRS warned.

It's "one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement.

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

The scam, which first surfaced last year, used to target businesses, but it's now expanding to schools, tribal casinos, health care groups and temporary staffing agencies, the IRS notice said.

In some cases, the cyber criminals combine the W-2 phishing email with a request for a wire transfer that recipient completes, so some targets lose sensitive employee information and thousands of dollars.

If they suspect they're victims of the scam, employers should report the W-2 thefts to the IRS, so the agency can identify fraudulent returns, the notice said. If employees receive a message they think is a scam, they should send it to phishing@irs.gov with "W2 scam" in the subject line. Victim organizations should also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

IRS also advised against using search engines to find help with tax forms, because "tech support" links can sometimes be fraudulent; the notice emphasized "software 'tech support' will not call users randomly. This is a scam."

If they need help, individuals filing taxes should search instead for paid tax professionals to avoid any online scams.

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen laptop

3.7M Hong Kong Voters' Personal Data Stolen

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.