NYS Tax Department Urges Increased Vigilance as Tax-Season Scams Affect Additional New York-based Employers and their Employees

At least 65 companies with New York employees in multiple industries now victimized as identity thieves compromise 7,100 Social Security numbers

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, along with the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection, today renewed its warning for all New York tax preparers and human resources professionals of evolving scams aimed at stealing confidential client and employee information after identifying at least 65 companies in New York City, the Capital Region, Central New York, and Western New York that have now been impacted, affecting 7,100 taxpayers.

“New Yorkers entrusted with access to the private information of their colleagues and clients must protect it at all costs,” said Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion. “If something seems out of the ordinary, it’s better to be overly cautious to prevent sensitive data from ending up in the wrong hands.”

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The New York State Division of Consumer Protection reminds New Yorkers to be vigilant during tax season, as it is an optimum time for scammers to steal private information for their own personal gain. Just a few simple steps can protect individuals and businesses from becoming victims of fraud.”

Governor Cuomo recently highlighted several scams emerging this tax season. The one that continues to impact the most New Yorkers targets payroll and HR professionals.

Cybercriminals posing as company executives send emails to payroll and HR professionals requesting lists of employees and their personal information. This year, the scammers are expanding their reach. The Tax Department has identified multiple industries being affected, from health care and legal services to product manufacturing.

These emails may appear legitimate because they contain the name of the company’s chief executive officer. If you receive such an email, don’t respond even if the sender continues to send emails demanding information. Never provide any payroll data, such as W-2 forms and Social Security numbers, through email.

The Tax Department is in contact with the affected businesses and is working with them to protect their employees.

If you’re an employer that has been a victim of this scam and, in response, released any payroll data, such as W-2 information and Social Security numbers, see Guidance for employers affected by a W-2 phishing scam for instructions.

Protect yourself and your clients

Tax professionals must protect their clients’ personal information by only providing it to trusted sources such as the IRS and the NYS Tax Department. They should shred documents containing private data before discarding, and file clients’ tax returns as early as possible to reduce the timeframe an identity thief would have to claim a fraudulent tax refund using their clients’ information.

Remember, the NYS Tax Department and the IRS will never make threats over the phone and will never request personal or financial information by email.

Report it

If you’ve been contacted by a scammer posing as an IRS agent, you must contact the IRS. Learn how to report the incident here.

If you’ve been contacted by a con artist claiming to be from the New York State Tax Department, visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage  to learn how to report it. The Tax Department promptly reviews each complaint and takes corrective action when appropriate.

You may also contact the Division of Consumer Protection hotline at (800) 697-1220 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.