USA?s Internal Revenue Service warns of another scam run via fax

The Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean alerts the public to another scam, this one via fax transmission, purporting to come from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

This latest ?phishing? scam targeting taxpayers was reported to the IRS in October 2008. The goal of a ?phishing? scam is to trick unsuspecting victims into providing their personal and financial information which the perpetrators of the fraud use to impersonate the victim and enrich themselves at the victim?s expense.

In this case, persons are being asked to fax their personal information to a number purportedly belonging to the IRS. It is not the IRS? number.

The fraud typically begins with a fax to both individuals and businesses of a Form W8-BEN that is represented to be from the IRS. The letter reads in part, ?Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of America Tax reporting and withholdings on interest paid on your account and other financial dealing to protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit in rectifying your exemption status. Therefore, you are to authenticate the following by completing Form W-8BEN, and return to us as soon as possible through the fax number?.? The Form W-8BEN (NRA Recertification) that is included in the fax then requests personal information including date of birth, place of birth and mother?s maiden name.

It IS NOT the practice of the IRS to request this type of information via fax transmission or email.

The IRS warns that care should always be taken when disclosing personal information.

Identity thieves use stolen personal data to access financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards and apply for loans. The IRS is aware of several identity theft scams targeting taxpayers.

In one case, fraudsters sent an email to individuals posing as an IRS representative informing them that if they are awaiting a refund, they can check the progress of the refund by clicking on a link contained in the email. This is just an attempt to trick the individual into disclosing their financial data. In another, abusive tax preparers used clients? Social Security Numbers and other information to file false tax returns without the client?s knowledge.

Sometimes scammers pose as the IRS itself. Recently, the IRS shut down a scheme in which perpetrators used email to announce to taxpayers that they were ?under audit? and could set matters right by divulging sensitive financial information on an official-looking website. Taxpayers should note that the IRS does not use email or fax transmissions to contact them concerning issues related to their accounts.

If taxpayers have any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic, they should call 1-800-829-1040 or the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados at 227-4132 or 227-4024.

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