Who’s giving crooks your tax information? Could be your preparer–or your boss

fraud, scam, theftThe IRS is reporting a 400 percent increase this year in malware and phishing scams as crooks try to get their hands on your tax data. Some of the scams target tax preparers, with emails that try to fool them into downloading bogus client documents or clicking on supposed links to the IRS. And some of the bad guys are going straight to your boss, reports the National Association of Enrolled Agents:

As if there weren’t already enough schemes out there to steal your identity, crooks have a new scam involving gaining access to employees’ tax forms W-2. In this scenario, emails are sent to human resources departments, supposedly from high-ranking company executives, requesting W-2s for a list of employees. Those forms have personal data that includes social security numbers. The scam was successful recently at Snapchat, a social media company in Venice, CA. Someone posing as Chief Executive Evan Spiegel requested W-2 data for nearly 700 current and past employees. Shortly after the information was sent, the HR employee became suspicious, but the information was already in the wrong hands.

Some of the stolen data is used to file phony tax returns and collect refunds. Other times it’s used to fuel imposter scams, where criminals posing as IRS agents threaten you with lawsuits or jail. Keep in mind that your first contact with the IRS over a problem won’t be a phone call or an email. The agency still uses old-school snail mail to notify taxpayers of problems.