Teach a man to phish, and he will come up with all sorts of new scams.
This IRS has recently renewed its warning about an email scam that targets payroll and human resources departments. The scam involves emails sent directly to Payroll/Human Resources requesting personal employee information such as Social Security numbers and/or copies of employees’ Forms W-2. The IRS renewed its warning because this scam has recently been expanded to include school districts, tribal organizations, and nonprofit groups.
Like many other scams before it, this scam appears as an unsolicited email from the IRS that looks legitimate and contains links to websites that also appear real. The email may mention a fake refund, phony tax bill or the threat of an audit to catch the reader’s attention. The scammer’s goal is to convince a recipient to provide their personal and financial information to be used to steal their identity and/or money.
Also new to this scam are follow up emails that appear to be from a company executive to Payroll/Human Resources with a request to have money wired to a certain account. The IRS urges all organizations to develop internal policies regarding the distribution of employee information and the approval of wire transfers when requested by email.
A few reminders on how you can spot such scam emails:
- Check the reply email address of such messages. Often the reply email address will be a similar, but not exact address – look for misspellings and added numbers or characters within the address.
- “Hover” over (but do not click on) embedded links within the email to see the Web domain that such links will take you to. Again, look for misspellings, added numbers or characters, or foreign countries shown within the link’s address.
- Consider how a company usually contacts you, and whether or not the request is unusual. (i.e. Is it odd for an executive to request wire transfers by email?)
Should you find yourself the recipient of such an email and in need of additional information, please feel free to reach out to our office and ask to speak with one of our tax professionals.