W-8BEN Phishing Scam

March 5, 2015 RHN CPA No Comments

A new round of phishing scams is being sent out by email – this time, targeting non-residents of the US. This particular phishing scam may appear highly believable because it asks users to send a copy of their completed W-8BEN form “using the details at the bottom of W-8BEN”. Using this fake W-8BEN, scammers may attempt to get such information as:

  • mother’s maiden name,
  • passport number,
  • date of birth,
  • PIN numbers and passcodes.

The legitimate W-8BEN can only be submitted directly to your withholding agent and the W-8BEN will not ask for information such as your mother’s maiden name. In general, be highly cautious when you receive any email asking for personal information. Always check the address of the sender, and be sure to follow these steps outlined by the IRS.

IRS GUIDELINES FOR SUSPECTED ONLINE SCAMS:

  1. Do not reply.
  2. Do not open any attachments.
    Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  3. Do not click on any links.
    If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit our identity protection page.
  4. Forward the email as-is, to us at phishing@irs.gov.
  5. After you forward the email and/or header information to us, delete the original email message you received.

If you suspect that you may be reading a phishing email, read the IRS’s full guide on reporting phishing and online scams, linked below. For more information on W-8BEN form fraud, follow the additional link below.

IRS Reporting Guide for Phishing and Online Scams:
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing

IRS Webpage on the Fake W-8BEN:
www.irs.gov/uac/Fake-Form-W-8BEN-Used-in-IRS-Tax-Scams


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.

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