IRS warns again of payroll scam as tax season begins
Be on the lookout for an email scam focusing on payroll records. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been made aware that another email scam is making its way to taxpayers as tax season begins.
In the most common iteration of the scheme, scammers send a fake email pretending to be from a high-level corporate employee requesting information about employee forms W-2 from company payroll or human resources departments. The emails typically include language such as:
- Kindly send me the individual 2016 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 2016, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.
Once the scammers have tricked company payroll or human resources departments into releasing the information, they can use the information to file fraudulent tax returns to obtain bogus tax refunds.
The scam is similar to one which made the rounds last year. This year, the IRS urges company payroll officials to double check any allegedly executive-level or unusual requests for lists of forms W-2 or Social Security number.
While this latest round of scam emails is targeted to payroll and human resource departments, all taxpayers should be aware that scammers are constantly attempting to trick taxpayers into providing personally identifiable information, including names, Social Security numbers, and filing status.
As a reminder, the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
- Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or email.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you receive calls or emails asking for information or payment and you do not owe tax, don’t engage with the scammer and do not give out any information. Just hang up.
If you get an email asking you to visit a website or answer personal questions, do not reply and do not click on any links in the email.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information. Call the IRS back at 1.800.829.1040 to find out more information.
You can also contact TIGTA to report scam calls by calling 1.800.366.4484 or by using the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” form on the website. You may also want to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission by using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report persons pretending to be from the government; please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Don’t fall for the tricks. Keep your personal information safe this tax season by remaining alert. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft related tax fraud, click here.