On March 3, 2016, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued an Alert for Payroll & HR Professionals on phishing email schemes that involve W-2s. The email purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees. Per the IRS Alert, the phishing emails include requests such as the following:

  • “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).”
  • “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.”

Bottom line – Advise employees to be ultra-cautious about responding to any email that asks for documents containing SSNs and tax information or asks for usernames and passwords for any site. Advise employees to pick up the phone, call the purported sender, and ask if they actually sent the email. If the employee cannot reach the purported sender to confirm that it is legitimate, the employee should call the company’s IT help desk before responding to the email or clicking on a link in the email.

To read the full IRS Alert and additional IRS tips on protecting oneself from fraud during tax season, click here.