Tax season ‘tis the season to be phishing, according to the IRS. The IRS has issued a warning to payroll and human resources professionals about a “surge” in phishing emails seen this year. One of the preferred tactics of identity thieves this year appears to be impersonating CEOs and sending emails to company payroll and human resources departments asking for employee W-2s. The employees think they are sending the W-2s to the CEO, but they are actually going to the bad guys. The W-2s, in turn, contain employee Social Security numbers and other identifying information.
This most recent warning follows on a February 18, 2016 warning to consumers in which the IRS reported “an approximate 400 percent surge” in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. Many of these schemes involved phishers impersonating IRS officials or tax-preparers and asking for tax-related information. Once obtained, some scammers attempt to file false tax returns in order to collect refunds.
Vigilance is important at all times of the year, but in this busy period it is particularly important to read and review messages carefully, especially when they purport to be from the CEO or other members of senior management. More important still, as with all things online, when in doubt, don’t click.