Every year cybercriminals prey on unsuspecting taxpayers with a variety of scams and phishing schemes. This year is no exception, but it looks like cybercriminals are specifically targeting Payroll and HR pros.
In fact, the IRS has issued a specific alert about a scam that’s specifically designed to trick HR and payroll pros into providing personal info on employees.
A message from the CEO
Here’s what you need to know: The HR/payroll-specific phishing scheme is a variation of a “spoofing” email. Essentially, the email is made to look as though it came from within the actual company — such as from a CEO or other high-ranking executive.
A common example the IRS is seeing involves an email from the CEO to a company payroll or HR employee. In the email, the individual/individuals posing as the CEO will ask the employee receiving the email to provide a variety of personal information for “review” by the exec.
And it appears this scheme has worked on a number of occasions. IRS Criminal Investigation is already reviewing a number of cases where HR and payroll pros have been tricked into sharing social security numbers with cybercriminals.
“This is a new twist on an old scheme using the cover of the tax season and W-2 filings to try tricking people into sharing personal data. Now the criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll departments,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a press release. “If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”
W-2s, SSNs and more
Here are a few of the specific information requests the IRS has seen so far:
- 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.
For additional details on how to protect your firm against the type of impostor fraud the IRS is warning firms about, check out our earlier post here.