Montana Department of Justice
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W-2 Scam Targets Businesses, Nonprofits, and Tribal Organizations as Tax Filing Deadline Approaches

The Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has received multiple reports of businesses being targeted by a sophisticated “spear phishing” email scam that is also known as the “CEO Scam” or the “W-2 Scam.”  While OCP has only received reports of three businesses falling victim to this scam so far in Montana, nationally, other entities have been targeted in this scam, such as nonprofit and tribal organizations.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns that this scheme is meant to compromise the personal information of as many people as possible within each targeted organization.

“Spear phishing” is a more focused form of “phishing,” or posing as a legitimate source to gain access to sensitive personal identification and financial information.  “Spear phishing” emails are sent to specifically targeted recipients and are designed to look like they were sent from someone the recipient knows and interacts with – possibly a business owner, a supervisor, a colleague, or a department manager.  The email’s subject line and content are likely to be specific to the target recipient’s business responsibilities or interests.

“This ‘spear phishing’ scam is especially despicable because it takes advantage of the trust that colleagues build between each other,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.  “These cybercriminals often research their intended target by exploring the target recipient’s LinkedIn and other social media pages to build a convincing email.  It’s easy to fall victim to those emails.  Educating Montana businesses, charities, schools, tribal organizations, and others about the existence of this type of scam is the best defense we have,” Attorney General Fox added.

The Montana Office of Consumer Protection has received dozens of notices about the following specific “spear phishing” scam as the April 18 tax deadline approaches:

A person pretending to be a company executive sends an email to a staff member, usually someone who works in the human resources or payroll department.  Cybercriminals use various ‘spoofing’ techniques to disguise the email address to make it appear as if it came from an organization executive. The email requests a list of all employees’ W-2 information, including employees’ names, addresses, social security numbers, and wage information.  In reality, though, when the staff member responds with the W-2 information to the email, the scammer is now in possession of the type of sensitive personal information that allows them to commit identity theft.  The scammer may even file fake tax returns to steal the employees’ tax refund money.

If you, or someone you know, receives an unusual email requesting such information, do not respond immediately.  Instead, contact the alleged email sender or company executive by phone or in person to ensure that the request for W-2 information legitimately came from within your organization.

If the request was not legitimate, the scam attempt should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov with ‘W2 Scam’ in the subject line, and reported to the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection through OCP’s convenient online reporting form here, or by phone at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500.

Organizations which have their W2 information compromised should report W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS so the agency can take steps to help protect employees from tax-related identity theft.  The next step is to file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Employees whose Forms W-2 have been stolen should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.identitytheft.gov/steps or the IRS at www.irs.gov/identitytheft.  Employees should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if the employee’s own tax return rejects because of a duplicate Social Security number or if instructed to do so by the IRS.

For more information about guarding against identity theft and what to do if you think you’re a victim, you can also visit the Montana Department of Revenue’s identity theft website.

NEXT STEPS:  To get updates on the latest scams and identity theft attempts affecting Montanans, sign up for Consumer Alerts from the Office of Consumer Protection.  To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form here.  You can also call to speak with an OCP investigator at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency.

 

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

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The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Central Services Division

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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