The FBI is warning those of you who have direct deposit set up to be alert. 

Officials say cyber criminals have been targeting online payroll accounts at school districts, universities, and hospitals. 

In some cases, officials say employers discover the scam only when employees start complaining that they did not receive their paycheck via direct deposit. 

Here’s how the scam works: 

Officials say it starts with a phishing email that tricks you into forking over your login credentials. 

That email can look very, very real, the FBI says. 

Once the scammer has your credentials, the scammer can now use it to access your payroll account to change the direct deposit. 

That money is then typically directly deposited onto prepaid cards. 

The scammers then use those prepaid cards to get cash withdrawals from ATMs or may  make purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, retail stores, fast food restaurants, and other stores. 

The FBI says they’ve seen an increase in these types of scams. 

In 2017, the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported around 17 payroll-related scam cases. 

As of July of this year, there were about 47 reported cases, losses reportedly totaling $1 million.

How can you prevent yourself from becoming a victim? 

Officials say do not give your log-in credentials in response to any email. 

Also, do not reply and do not click on any suspicious links. 

Keep in mind that phishing emails usually are sent outside normal business hours. 

If you suspect you are a victim or have received a phishing email, forward any suspicious requests to your IT or HR departments.

Learn more about the latest alert from the FBI here.