Hundreds of thousands of U.S. consumers fall victim to tax identity theft each year. Suppose it happens to employees within your organization. The affected parties will spend many hours filing paperwork, sending emails, making phone calls, and taking other steps to remedy the situation. Much of that work needs to happen during office hours when the appropriate organizations are open. The extra work and stress can lead to lost productivity and even distrust in the workplace.
Tax fraud can happen at home and at work. Cybercriminals’ schemes are wide-ranging and lucrative: from targeting your HR and payroll teams with W-2 phishing emails to calling your employees pretending to be the IRS. There are three distinct ways that Human Resources and management teams can help ensure their employees safely file their taxes:
On a departmental level, the employees who will most likely come under attack from cybercriminals reside in HR, accounting or payroll. These employees can expose the W-2 forms of everyone in the organization if they fall for a scam, so education is imperative. Partner with your IT and Information Security leaders to train these staff members on ways to identify and report a suspicious email without clicking on it or downloading attachments.
From a company-wide perspective, share best practices with employees on how they can avoid tax fraud on an individual level or family level. Here are five basic tips to get started:
Not all tax fraud takes place online. In fact, many identity thieves still resort to low-tech methods like mail theft to steal people’s tax information. Be sure to inform your employees when their W-2 forms are being mailed out, so they can be on the lookout and raise a red flag if their form doesn’t arrive.
You should also keep an eye on the latest methods being hatched by fraudsters. The IRS regularly updates its consumer alerts based on reports from individuals and law enforcement agencies. The agency also offers timely reports like its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2021.
Many employers have begun providing supplementary benefits to ensure their employees file their taxes properly and on time. Some partner with a trusted tax preparer that workers can use to have their taxes done professionally. This can either be fully paid or offered at a discount. Others partner with self-service tax preparation software, like TurboTax, to offer corporate discounts.
Identity theft protection is another rapidly-growing benefit with 78% of employers expected to offer it by 2022 or beyond. Not only does identity theft protection safeguard employees during tax season, but it also provides peace of mind throughout the year with 24/7 monitoring and identity restoration assistance if identity fraud does occur.