LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ken Horn on Wednesday encouraged businesses in his district to be wary of a new tax scam that was recently announced by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
“We’re approaching another tax season and once again, scammers are ramping up their efforts,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “I want to thank Treasury for making people aware of this scam, and I hope spreading the message helps protect as many Michigan businesses as possible.”
The scam is carried out by cybercriminals impersonating persons of authority within a company and sending an email to payroll employees asking for copies of all employee W-2 forms. A W-2 form contains an employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income, and withholdings — all of which can be used to file fraudulent state income tax returns and steal refunds. Criminals can also sell this information over the internet.
The scam is often difficult to detect, because scammers study the company, its employees and the company hierarchy, which makes the email appear to be legitimate. Business taxpayers who receive this type of email are asked to report the encounter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I encourage companies to review procedures for handling protected information and make sure all employees follow protocol and do their due diligence when doing so,” Horn said. “It’s really a shame that we need to go to such extreme lengths, but most people would agree that you’re better safe than sorry.”