Scammers are targeting businesses nationwide, including many in Montana. Attorney General Tim Fox says they are using a sophisticated “spear phishing” email scam that has compromised the personal information of thousands of Montanans.

“It’s pretty sophisticated,” said Fox. “What we see these scammers doing is probably going online and getting information about a business and we have had a number of Montana business hit with this and they then send in an email requesting information and it will appear that that email is from a trusted customer.”

Fox said more than a dozen Montana companies have been targeted, but the number of people impacted is much higher.

“One example, the phishing email requests a list of employees W2 information such as names and address and social security numbers, etcetera,” Fox said. “When the staff member from the business responds, then the scammer has all that personal information, which they then use to file fake tax returns and apply for credit cards.”

Fox said businesses should call and check with clients or customers asking for private information, to be very careful about ever sharing private information online, and to complete tax forms early, so that scammers can’t get undeserved tax returns.