Your company bookkeeper or outside accountant receives a seemingly innocuous email from the CEO, owner, or other "high up" person in the organization asking for a copy of all the 2015 W-2s in pdf form. Simple enough - just one of the many things that need to be responded to every day. Except this one isn't innocuous. It's a trap to capture your employee's social security numbers. And unfortunately, because of its deceptive simplicity, it's been successful in a few places.
"Can't happen here." or "We are way to small." No such thing. No organization is immune and even the best anti-malware products may not be able to keep up with every single instance of this Scam. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen instances with some of our clients where this exact Phishing Scam has been identified Fortunately, most people are vigilant and aware. They asked their superiors to confirm the request and stopped the issue then and there.
Below is a release from the IRS outlining this issue in more detail. Bottom line is simple: You can't be too careful with important company information. Always ask questions and independently doublecheck those kinds of requests.
IR-2016-34, March 1, 2016
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to payroll and human resources professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees.
The IRS has learned this scheme — part of the surge in phishing emails seen this year — already has claimed several victims as payroll and human resources offices mistakenly email payroll data including Forms W-2 that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cybercriminals posing as company executives.