JACKSON, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) — Attorney General Jim Hood warned Mississippi taxpayers today that scammers are targeting a wide range of organizations attempting to collect W-2 data that can in turn be used to file fraudulent tax returns.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, scammers are now combining two common scams into one. First, the criminals will send an email to an employee in HR that initially appears to be from the company CEO or another corporate executive, asking for copies of the W-2 forms of all employees. Next, they follow up with an urgent request to transfer a large sum of money to a bank account controlled by these cyber criminals.
Attorney General Hood urged Mississippi residents to remember that when they receive sudden or unexpected requests like this from someone in authority at their workplace, they may be spoofed emails. Employees should always verify by phone that this is a legitimate request coming from that executive.
“We have received calls and reports to our office this week from entities whose employees have fallen for this type of scam,” Attorney General Hood said. “Employees who would have W2 information, such as accounting or human resources personnel, are particularly susceptible to this scam. All types of organizations are possible targets, including schools, healthcare organizations, nonprofits, and private businesses.”
According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, tax refund fraud increased by nearly 50 percent in 2015. This year, the IRS has warned that criminals have started tax refund scams much earlier than in previous years.
Consumers who are not required to file a return and those who are not actually due a refund from the IRS can still be victims of refund fraud. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of tax refund fraud is to file your taxes as soon as possible, before the fraudsters can.
Consumers who need to report information about a phishing scam or any tax-related scam should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at (800) 281-4418.