What Is W-2 Phishing Attack?


W-2 phishing was launched with an intention to swipe away your tax refund. More than 100 employers became victim of W-2 phishing attack in first 10 weeks of 2017, putting 120,000 taxpayers at risk of an identity fraud. As per statistics by IRS Return Integrity Compliance Services, reports of W-2 phishing emails increased by 870% in 2017 and the figures are quite alarming.

How Is It Launched?

The cybercriminal shall send an email in which he might impersonate himself as the CEO of the company. The email contains an urgent request to send employee tax information. On receiving the email, the concerned employee often sends the file and hands over confidential & personal employee information to the fraudsters.

W-2s are important forms that are attached when one files their tax return. It contains a person’s confidential information such as name, address, income, social security number etc. Employee’s sensitive information is acquired from W-2s to commit an identity fraud.

Following are some ways in which this information can be misused –

  • Your social security number can be used to claim a duplicitous tax refund.
  • Take a loan on your name
  • Open up a new credit card
  • Make payments from your account

Ways To Protect Yourself From W-2 Phishing Attack

  • Raise Awareness – Since W-2 phishing attacks are on rise it is important to keep your staff aware about the phishing scam. Make sure that you educate your employees on regular basis about the recent phishing scams. It is important that your staff that deals with all the financial statements and tax information is aware about the W-2 and other similar threats.
  • Set Relevant Policies – To protect your company from such attacks, it important to set up some secretive policies and communicate them to your employees. There should be policies that decide what kind of requests should be catered to through an email. For e.g. when there is a policy that top executives would never ask for sensitive information via email, then the concerned employees would not be deceived by any fraudulent email asking for employee credentials. Also it is important to be vigilant when responding to any email.
  • Flags Spam Emails – If you are able to identify a W-2 phished email then flag it and forward it to your employer and other concerned employees to prevent them from falling into a trap.
  • Verify The Sender – Make sure that your employees do not revert to an email sent from an untrusted source. Follow a practice of reconfirming the request of sending any confidential information with the concerned executive once, before actually sending it.It is important to stay alert about such attacks to take preventive measures well in advance.

For more information about IT Security, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

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