We recently reported that tax fraud was the biggest contributor to a 47% increase in identity theft last year. It is undoubtedly on the rise, and there's a new tactic has emerged for stealing tax information.
The latest tactic for stealing information to file and collect on other people's tax returns is a form of CEO spoofing. The way it works is that HR or a CFO receives an email that appears to be from a CEO requesting employe W2 forms in PDF form. Getting a PDF file is important because some online tax filers allow you to upload a PDF so you don't have to input all of the information.
The information contained on a W2 form is particularly valuable to identity thieves because it contains full names, addresses, Social Security numbers and financial information. It's everything a scammer needs to be able to file taxes and get a return back.
If you receive a request for W2 forms, make sure to look at the reply-to address in the email. Even better, follow the email up with a phone call to the person requesting it just to make sure.
If you're a potential victim (which, if you have a Social Security number, you are), the best way to make sure an identity thief doesn't steal your tax return is to file it as early as possible. If you beat them to the punch, they can't file.