Watch Out for Fraud, W-2s, Your “CEO”

We all know that fraud has been occurring with the Form W-2.  This is what has caused the IRS to request and Congress to approve moving the due date of the form up to January 31st. But now the IRS is alerting payroll professionals to be aware of an emerging phishing email scheme that is targeted directly at payroll and the information you have on your employees.  It seems that these schemes send bogus emails purporting to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees. This is a new twist on an old scheme and is focusing on the busyness of this timirs newswiree of year. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has advised payroll departments to be sure to check out requests for company lists that come from executives before sending out the data.  “Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees” states Commissioner Koskinen.

The IRS is already investigating and reviewing several cases of what is known as a “spoofing” email. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer.  In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to the company payroll office employee requesting a list of employees and information including social security numbers.  The following are some of the details of the scheme that the IRS has furnished:

  • Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review
  • Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary) as at 2/2/2016.
  • I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.

What can payroll professionals do to handle this situation?  First, immediately inform your higher ups that the phishing scheme is now in play. Make sure they are aware ahead of time of your need to be even more diligent than ever on guarding your payroll information.  And then, as usual, guard the information in your system as you always have, in the most professional manner available.  If your managers need more info please refer to this link for a copy of the IRS alert

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