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Authorities warn of increasing W-2 email theft scheme

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Staff Writer | August 22, 2017
W-2 form
Data security   200 entities were victimized

The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms—scams.

That can put staffers' Social Security numbers and other critical information in the hands of thieves.

The government said 200 businesses, public schools, universities, Native American governments and nonprofits were victimized by these scams during this year's tax filing season, resulting in the theft of several hundred thousand employees' data. That's up from 50 in 2016, when the scam first appeared.

Cyberthieves perpetrate the scams by sending emails that appear to come from executives inside the targeted organizations.

The emails ask payroll or human resources departments to reply with a list of all employees and their W-2 forms. Some emails also ask companies to transfer money to a specified bank account.

Companies should be on alert for anyone asking for employees' W-2 forms or for wire transfers of money.

The IRS has an email notification address specifically for businesses and organizations to report W-2 thefts: Include "W-2 scam" in the subject line.

Businesses and organizations that receive a suspicious email but haven't been victimized should forward it to, also with "W-2 scam" in the subject line.

Anyone victimized should also contact the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center through

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