PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It may be the slickest tax scam yet. It’s not a call demanding money and nobody is impersonating the IRS. Instead, thieves are impersonating someone from your workplace.
“Yeah, that is very slick,” said Levi Maxwell, of Columbus, Ohio. It’s a tax scam seeking your W-2. “Yeah, that’s pretty legit looking. Yeah, for sure. I would have been fooled,” said Maxwell.
Scammers send an email pretending to be someone from where you work. If you work in human resources or payroll, you are the biggest target because you handle lots of people’s W-2 forms.
“This one is particularly tricky,” said Caitlin Driscoll of the Better Business Bureau.
According to Driscoll, this scam is tough to spot.
“Spoofing techniques are being used in emails to impersonate an executive or a payroll provider,” said Driscoll.
You can easily be fooled into thinking it’s from someone at work.
“Yeah, that definitely looks believable. I would definitely think that was from my employer — wouldn’t second guess it at all. That’s scary,” said Kalli Eckles, of Pittsburgh.
“Yeah, I 100 percent agree with her,” said Samantha McGeary, of Pittsburgh.
Once the thieves get ahold of your information, they can then file a false tax return to steal your refund.
“Really tax ID theft is the primary goal to obtain the Social Security Number and information contained in the W-2,” said Driscoll.
However, they may also take it as step further by selling your personal information on the dark web.
“They can sell that information for quite a profit depending on the information they were able to obtain,” said Driscoll.
Because there are no tell-tale signs for this scam, you have to closely examine the email.
“Even if it’s an email from a contact that you recognize, look closely at the email address that it’s coming from. Sometimes, these emails are spoofed where it’s just a slight variation in the email address,” said Driscoll.
Compare the reply address with the sender’s address.
“When you click ‘reply to,’ see if who it’s replying to is actually where it’s coming from,” said Driscoll.
If someone appears to be copied on it, do not let that fool you either.
“There are ways scammers can actually modify and spoof the entire email address to appear that it’s coming from that legitimate representative,” Driscoll said.
Last, but not least, verify it independently. Call the sender by looking up their number on your own. Do not trust any numbers included in the email.
“Don’t trust anything. Trust your family and your friends. Period,” said John Loniero, of North Fayette.