Cybersecurity Client Alert – March 2016

    By Nicole J. Harrell, Data Privacy and Security

    Don’t Fall Victim to the W-2 Scam

    One of the easiest ways for a criminal to obtain personal data is to have you send it directly to them, and criminals are obtaining thousands of Social Security Numbers from well-meaning employees. They use that information to file fraudulent tax returns. Heres how the scam works

    The criminals spoof the email address of a supervisor. At first glance the email address appears to be legitimate, but upon closer look its actually a Gmail or other account outside of the company. They will then send an email that appears to be from the supervisor to another employee. (And how do they know the names of the supervisors and other human resources personnel? Mostly likely, they found the information on the companys website.) The email will ask the employee to send all of the W-2 statements from last year in a pdf so the supervisor can review them. When the employee replies with all of the requested information, the criminal now has the W-2 statements containing Social Security Numbers, names and addresses for every company employee and some former employees.

    Beware of emails that contain language similar to any of the following

    • Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 and earnings summary for all W-2 staff for a quick review.
    • Can you send me the updated list of employees with name, date of birth, home address, social security number and salary?
    • I want you to send me the list of W-2 employees wage and tax statements for 2015. I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and emails them to me asap.

    We urge you to educate your employees about this scam.

    If you received one of these emails and replied with the information, please contact us as there are steps that you must take to inform your employees and former employees. We can be reached by phone on our hotline at (844) 417.3309 or by email at

    The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2024.