AUGUSTA – Recent breaches at certain Maine employers have prompted Maine Revenue Services (MRS) to remind taxpayers and employers of the importance of notifying MRS when they become the victim of a data breach. If a breach of personal information occurs, please notify MRS at (207) 626-8475, as soon as possible. Timely notification assists MRS in preventing fraudulent tax refunds.
According to recent media reports, a phishing scheme targeting employees, primarily payroll and human resources professionals, includes emails where the sender appears to be the superintendent of a school system, a corporate executive, or other authorized professional requesting personal information on employees, possibly including copies of W-2s.
"Individuals and employers are our partners in preventing income tax fraud," said State Tax Assessor Jerome Gerard. "Maine Revenue Services uses the latest technologies to prevent tax fraud; however, early notification from affected taxpayers and employers only serves to enhance our abilities."
MRS encourages employers to be cautious when releasing personal information. Double check email addresses and, in the event such a request was unexpected, contact the individual requesting the information to confirm the validity of their request.
"Notification to Maine Revenue Services should be a part of every employers' data breach incident response plan," added David Heidrich, spokesman for Maine Revenue Services. "Regardless of the safeguards the State of Maine has in place to prevent tax fraud, employers and individuals are an important part of our first line of defense."
MRS' guidance comes after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a press release alerting payroll and human resource professionals to a phishing scheme that appears to come from company executives requesting personal information on employees. IRS notice IR-2016-34, issued March 1, 2016, can be found on the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Alerts-Payroll-and-HR-Professionals-to-Phishing-Scheme-Involving-W2s.
Individuals and businesses can learn more about protecting data and protecting themselves against identity theft and tax fraud by visiting the Identity Protection Tip page on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection-Tips.