It’s tax season, and along with it comes tax refund fraud. In the latest scam, cyber criminals impersonate a corporate executive, forging an email in his or her name to, say, a human resources colleague, demanding access to employee W-2 forms.
“Criminals are putting quite a bit of work into making these emails look like they’ve come from within the company,” said Verenda Smith, deputy director of the Federation of Tax Administrators.
Smith said the information gleaned from these phishing scams, such as total reported taxable income or withholdings, gives phony tax filings aimed at stealing a taxpayer’s refund the veneer of legitimacy.
Weight Watchers and Seagate Technology are among the firms recently hit.
Cybersecurity expert Avivah Litan at Gartner said tax software companies have measures to thwart such scams, like keeping track of the devices used to submit returns.
“They’ll look to see if this device has been used to fill out multiple refund requests,” she said.
But fraudsters can skirt those barriers by filing through phony tax preparers. Litan said the best way to avoid being the victim of a tax refund scam is to file your return before the crooks do.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.