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Attorney General William Sorrell wants businesses to be on the alert for a scam that has begun to emerge in Vermont and nationally has cost thousands of businesses millions of dollars and resulted in security breaches. It involves an email “spoofing” or pretending to be from the business’s CEO to an employee, requesting the employee to wire funds, supply sensitive information, or attach employee W-2 forms.
The email might request the information as soon as possible or otherwise impart a sense of urgency. Unlike many phishing emails, which often contain grammatical errors or strange usages, the fraudsters crafting these emails may be more sophisticated, and the emails often look legitimate.
The scam plays on employees’ desire to provide quick responses to their bosses – this good work ethic can lead to disastrous results. This being tax season, some scammers are using the scam to acquire employee tax information in order to commit ID theft and submit fake tax refunds requests.
While this scam can be difficult to avoid, best practices include a blanket policy against transmitting any sensitive information (e.g., passwords, financial data, social security numbers, tax information) via regular email, which has several security weaknesses. Additionally, any request for such information should be followed up by a telephone confirmation or email confirmation by a new email (not a “reply”) that the request is legitimate.
More information about Sorrell’s efforts to protect consumers and address data breaches can be found at http://ago.vermont.gov/focus/consumer-info/privacy-and-data-security1.php. Or contact Ryan Kriger, Assistant Attorney General, at 802-828-3170.