Tax season is already well underway, which means it’s time for tax preparers and tax payers to begin gathering up all of their information and start planning to file their returns. It also means it’s time to be aware of new and ongoing tax scams!

The latest scam that the IRS and other security authorities have warned of involves fake emails requesting W-2s. This is the most recent in a series of “phishing scams” designed by the perpetrators to obtain the information necessary to file a false tax return and fraudulently obtain a taxpayer’s refund. This scam is not only tax fraud, but identity theft.

In this well-documented scam, the “phishers” send a “spoof” email that appears to come from the CEO or other official of a company, usually sent to the organization’s HR or Finance department. According to the website Krebs on Security, the typical fraudulent email addresses the receiver by name, and would go something like this:

I want you to send me a list of the W-2 forms for all employees, and wage and withholding information for 2016. Please attach in a PDF file, and email back to me ASAP.

Another increasingly common scam to be aware of involves emails requesting a money wire transfer. Like the previous scam, these emails are addressed to specific individuals and appear to come from someone within the same company. In this “phishing scam” the perpetrator’s intent is to provide the email recipient with wiring instructions and trick them into wiring large sums of money into what appears to be a valid account. The moneys are instead wired to the perpetrator.

MBAF urges employees of any company to behave in the cyber world, just as they would in the real world. Company policies should be to confirm activities such as requests for money or requests for confidential information through independent channels other than email. Call the person using a phone number you trust, walk over to their desk, or use the most practical way to get a second verification before releasing funds or information.

Other Scams

These scams come on the heels of the rise in telephone tax scams we reported on last year. As tax season heats up, other ongoing scams that the IRS warns about include:

  • Phishing scams
  • Identity theft
  • Scams advertising “free money” from the IRS
  • Scams involving Social Security
  • Scams involving fake charities

You can see a complete list of all the tax scams the IRS has warned about, and what you can do to avoid them, or if you believe you have become a victim, by visiting the agency’s consumer alerts.

We remind you that the IRS will never contact you about any tax matter by phone or email first. They will always send a letter by US mail. Still, if you receive any letter about a tax bill and you are not sure if it is real, contact our offices. We would be glad to help you verify if it is authentic, and/or help you resolve the matter if it is a legitimate concern.

Compliance with and understanding the difference between scams and legitimate income tax problems, can be complex. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have further questions on this Advisory, do not hesitate to contact our Tax and Accounting Specialists, or call us at 1-800-239-1474.