BBB: Watch out for W-2 tax form scams

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As tax season rolls around, the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan is warning people not to fall victim to scams targeting their tax forms.

According to the BBB, scammers steal W-2 forms for two main reasons: First, to use the information on the form — like your name, address and Social Security number — to file fraudulent tax returns and receive ill-gotten refunds.

Second, crooks may use the information to email a company’s payroll department and try to trick the company into wiring money to the scammers. It can happen to anyone — even the BBB. According to a Tuesday release, a staffer in BBB Accounts Payable got an email that said it was from BBB CEO Phil Catlett asking for a wire transfer. The staffer did not reply.

According to the BBB, the Internal Revenue Service called it “one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time” and said some companies have lost both employees’ information and thousands of dollars.

>>Online: BBB Scam Tracker

The IRS says that school districts, health care organizations, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, tribal organizations and nonprofits are often targeted by people looking to steal W-2s.

The easiest way to protect yourself, the BBB says, is to file your tax return early. If you do, any bad returns will be rejected because of duplicate information. Businesses can use two-factor authentication to double-check any big money transfers.

Here’s what you should do if you get or fall victim to a W-2 scam email:

  • Forward it to phishing@irs.gov with “W-2 Scam” in the subject line.
  • File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • If your W-2 was stolen and your tax return is rejected due to a duplicated Social Security number, file a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit. The IRS may also tell you to file this form.

>>Online: IRS taxpayer guide to identity theft