Recently there has been an influx of scams that refer to banks and the IRS, specifically W-8BEN form. The scam is used to try and trick taxpayers into giving out their bank information and personal information. The scammer then uses the information to steal the persons identity and to clear out his bank account.
The IRS has information on the scam and realizes that it is happening all over the nation. In the scam the thieves send an email which looks like it comes from the Taxpayers bank. It states that the bank is updating records and that they want to help taxpayers in their exemption of having their interest profits taxed. Currently a bank has to declare gained interest and report it to the IRS. Taxpayers then must include this as income.
The phony email includes an attached form that purportedly comes from the IRS, then proceeds to request personal information and bank information. The scam is difficult to see through because it goes on to request that the information be faxed to a number within seven days. As most banks prefer that personal information be faxed it is easy to fall for this scam.
The scheme then allows the thief to impersonate the victim and get access to his finances. The Purported tax forms are called W-8BEN or W/9095 and are attempts at mimicking genuine tax forms.
The email sent with the W-8BEN form has had a greater success rate because it preys on foreign residents. Because foreigners are more wary and concerned about mail sent by the IRS. The W-8BEN form is a legitimate IRS form for foreigners which is a certificate of foreign statis of beneficial owner for the United States Tax Withholding. The legitimate form is used by banks to make sure that the non U.S. customers meet the requirements to continue to remain exempt from tax reporting. Unfortunately the scam artist W-8BEN has been changed to request information from the victims whereas the original form does not.
To avoid this scam you should go to the IRS website at www.irs.gov and look at the real forms and compare them to the forms you have receive. When you do receive one of these scams report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration investigations at 1-800-366-4484. Also, sign up for id theft prevention services to help stay alerted to potential fraud & identity theft issues
Be aware that if you do send your personal information, a scam artist can take over your financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards, and apply for loans and credit cards using your name. He can even file fraudulent tax returns.
If you have already been victimized then you should contact the fraud or security department of your creditors, and financial institutions. You should also contact the local police department, or the TIGTA.