Tech Tip: Is This Request Really From the Boss?

In this scam, employee information on taxes and social security is at risk.

A common scam going around requires everyone to be on their toes. Here’s the situation.

An email comes in from the boss asking you to email a copy of employee pay stubs, tax information and files containing confidential data such as social security numbers. In another example, the boss asks for a transfer or an ACH payment to a vendor or to a different bank account.

The problem: even though it has the boss’s email address and name, and appears to come from the big guy … it is still a scam. To compound problems, a lot of bosses do legitimately send these types of emails.

If you get a request relating to personnel, confidential information or banking transactions from someone in your organization, you must double-check that it really came from that person. In lots of cases, a quick text message is an easy confirmation. And even if it’s a legitimate request, never send confidential information like social security numbers — or attachments containing this information — without taking precautions to password-protect and encrypt the message first.

If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

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