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W-2 Scams Are Back: Here's What You Need to Know

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With Tax Day right around the corner on April 17, 2018, you may have already started to get your paperwork in order. But before you rush out to your accountant to get your refund, it may be a good idea to read up on a new W-2 scam that's making the rounds. Turns out, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning employers and employees to be on their guard this tax season thanks to an email phishing scam.

A Closer Look at This Year's W-2 Scam

For years, scammers have been finding ways to infiltrate the system. This year, they're posing as employers and sending out what appear to be harmless emails to the human resources department of various companies.

In the email, scammers are asking for copies of employees' W-2 forms, which contain sensitive information including employees' social security numbers and addresses. The criminals will then use that information to do one of two things: File a fake tax return, or sell it online to other scammers, according to a warning posted on the IRS website.

The initial email is usually friendly and will start with something like, "Hi, are you working today?" But then it turns dark: Once the scammer has an employee's attention, they'll ask for an immediate wire transfer.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to prevent a scam such as this is to be on high alert. Due to the nature of these scams, some organizations may not even realize they've been scammed until it's too late.

If you do receive a strange email from your boss or HR department, ask them about it right away; don't reply until you know that the email is legitimate.

If you think you've received one of these malicious emails, notify the IRS immediately by sending an email to dataloss@irs.gov. In the subject line, type: W2 Data Loss. Be sure to include your business name, business employer identification number, contact name, contact phone, summary of how the data loss occurred, and the volume of employees affected.

To learn more about the W-2 phishing scam, visit the IRS website.

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