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Cybercriminals Targeting Online Payroll Accounts Of Employees, FBI Says

The FBI is issuing new warnings about cybersecurity.
The FBI is issuing new warnings about cybersecurity. Photo Credit: FBI Safe Online Surfing website

Cybercriminals are targeting online payroll accounts of employees in order to change bank account info and redirect direct deposits, according to the FBI.

The federal government has received complaints reporting cybercriminals are targeting the online payroll accounts of employees in a variety of industries. Institutions most affected are education, healthcare and commercial airlines.

Cybercriminals reportedly target employees through phishing emails designed to capture an employee’s login credentials, according to the FBI.

Once the cybercriminal has obtained an employee’s credentials, the credentials are used to access the employee’s payroll account in order to change their bank account information. Rules are added by the cybercriminal to the employee’s account preventing the employee from receiving alerts regarding direct deposit changes. Direct deposits are then changed and redirected to an account controlled by the cybercriminal, which is often a prepaid card.

Here are some recommendations from the FBI to reduce the threat of payroll diversion:

  • Alert and educate your workforce about this scheme, including preventative strategies and appropriate reactive measures should a breach occur.
  • Instruct employees to hover their cursor over hyperlinks included in emails they receive to view the actual URL. Ensure the URL is actually related to or associated with the company it purports to be from.
  • Instruct employees to refrain from supplying log-in credentials or personally identifying information in response to any email.
  • Direct employees to forward suspicious requests for personal information to the information technology or human resources department.
  • Ensure that log-in credentials used for payroll purposes differ from those used for other purposes, such as employee surveys.
  • Apply heightened scrutiny to bank information initiated by employees seeking to update or change direct deposit credentials.
  • Monitor employee logins that occur outside normal business hours.
  • Restrict access to the Internet on systems handling sensitive information or implement two-factor authentication for access to sensitive systems and information.
  • Only allow required processes to run on systems handling sensitive information.

The FBI encourages victims to report information about suspicious or criminal activity to their local FBI field office, and file a complaint at www.ic3.gov .

If your problem pertains to this particular scheme: note "payroll diversion" in the body of the complaint.

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