The Vermont Department of Taxes is warning Vermont businesses and local governments to be on alert for a “spoofing” scam that requests employees’ Forms W-2 containing confidential information.
The scam already has victimized at least one business and one town government in Vermont. The department has verified that these identity thieves have attempted to file Vermont income tax returns using the W-2 information obtained fraudulently.
This spoofing scam, a variation of phishing, sends an email that appears to be a legitimate message from the company CEO or some other person or department from within the company. The email is designed to obtain personal information that can be used to obtain credit cards, open accounts, and file for tax refunds in the unsuspecting victim’s name.
“Identity thieves are targeting payroll departments using very savvy and convincing tactics to gain your trust,” said Mary Peterson, commissioner for the Vermont Department of Taxes. “Consequently, everyone must be even more diligent and confirm that the request is legitimate before giving out private information.”
These types of scams are growing nationwide and are particularly intense during tax season, although they also occur after the April tax deadline. As of March, the IRS reported a 400 percent increase in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.
If you receive a phone call or email requesting information such as Social Security Number, wages earned, and other personal information, do not respond. Do not engage in conversation with the caller, and do not open attachments or click links in an email. Instead, use a phone number or email address you know is legitimate to confirm that the communication was real—-or fraud.
If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft or tax refund fraud, call the Vermont Department of Taxes at 802-828-2865. More information on identity theft and tax scams is available on their website.