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The Daily

IRS Fighting Evolving Scams

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 3, 2016

DevilComputerIn light of its ongoing issues with information security, the IRS has been offering victims of identity theft the use of its new Identity Protection PIN system. This system gives victims a new unique identifier to replace the others that may have already bee compromised.

However, an article in Accounting Today reports that these protection measures have, themselves, been compromised, as fraudsters are now using them to file false returns and steal refunds. It related an incident where a South Dakota CPA received an IP Pin last year after fraudsters used her information to file a false tax return in her name to steal her refund. This IP PIN, itself, was used this year by thieves to, once again, file a false return in her name to, once again, steal her refund. Accounting Today reported that there have been many such cases this filing season. The IRS, in a statement to Accounting Today, said it was aware the system had its own security problems and that additional safeguards are needed. It plans to implement another authentication method next filing season. 

These problems demonstrate that scammers are adapting to measures used against them with scams more sophisticated than before. 

For example, the IRS, in a statement released Tuesday, warned companies of what Commissioner John Koskinen said was "a new twist on an old scheme" where fraudsters impersonate company higher ups to ask HR for payroll data containing personally identifiable information. They then take this information and use it for other scams, such as filing false income tax returns. While phishing scams are nothing new, this is the first time the service has observed them going after payroll information, according to the IRS statement. IRS Criminal Investigation has already identified several cases where people have been tricked into sharing Social Security numbers with what later turned out to be cybercriminals. 

The IRS said the scam emails can be identified through the use of the following phrases: 

  • Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.
  • Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary).
  • I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.

“If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in the statement.