Claim: Con artists are circulating letters demanding the completion of fake IRS forms that would arm them with all the information necessary to steal the identities and empty the bank accounts of those who fall for this ruse.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
The IRS issued a warning of an identity theft scam that uses a phony form and an official looking letter from a bank. The letter states that the bank is updating its records in order to exempt the taxpayer from reporting interest income or having tax withheld at
The Internal Revenue Service is sounding the alarm about a fraudulent scheme that uses fictitious bank correspondence and IRS forms to try to trick taxpayers into disclosing personal and bank account information.
Con artists use the information to steal the taxpayer’s identity and bank account deposits. Reports of the scam have surfaced from coast-to-coast. Dozens of victims have been identified.
In the scam, a letter is sent out claiming to be from the taxpayer’s bank. It states that the “bank” is updating its records in order to exempt the taxpayer from reporting interest or having tax withheld on interest paid on bank accounts or other financial dealings.
Legally, banks must report interest to the IRS and taxpayers must include it as income.
The scam “bank” correspondence encloses a phony IRS form for personal and financial data. The letter urges the recipient to fax the completed form to a specific number within seven days or lose the reporting and withholding exemption, resulting in withholding of
The scheme promoters then use the faxed information to impersonate the taxpayer and gain access to the taxpayer’s finances.
One such phony form is labeled
The fictitious W-9095 appears to be an attempt to mimic the genuine IRS
The only personal information a genuine
Variations: In December 2008, the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada’s tax department, formerly Revenue Canada) issued a warning about a similar scheme being run on Canadian taxpayers.
Origins: In April 2002, a new ruse designed to trick victims into giving out personal information that could lead to identity theft was unleashed on the unsuspecting throughout the USA. It arrived in the form of fake Internal Revenue Service forms which appeared to have been mailed by taxpayers’
Here’s how the scam worked: An account holder would receive a letter on bank stationery requesting information for the purpose of reporting earnings to the Internal Revenue Service. Attached to the letter would be a fake IRS form identified as
The letter would say the recipient must return the completed by fax within seven days or the government would withhold
The real form (the W-9) doesn’t ask for account numbers, but the bogus form (the
Similar fake forms were labeled
There’s no way of telling how many folks have fallen for this trick or what the provision of their private information cost them in cold hard currency, but it doesn’t take great imagination to picture what use any halfway skilled swindler could put such information to. Armed with all the completed forms gave, it would be child’s play to empty bank accounts and apply for charge cards and loans in the pigeon’s name.
This con contains the potential to be highly effective because little about it looks out of place or obviously wrong. Folks trust their banks (they leave their money there, after all), so letters from such bastions of trust asking recipients to complete yet another tax form won’t be greeted with skepticism, especially when those letters also contain the news that doing so is eminently to the benefit of the account holders. Likewise, that an IRS form would ask for everything short of shoe size wouldn’t strike many as in any way unusual. About the only part of the transaction that might cause an eyebrow or two to be lifted is the insistence that the completed forms be faxed to the IRS rather than returned by mail. Yet once again, in a world now accustomed to the notion that personal tax returns can be
It always pays to be wary. Make the time to call your bank when asked for such information, even if it appears it’s the IRS doing the asking. Better to waste five minutes on the phone convincing your bank that you’re an idiot than keeping those five minutes to yourself and proving that you are.
Those who have received questionable documents that purported to be from the IRS or who have completed such forms and faxed them off should call
Barbara “credit carded” Mikkelson
|2002 Alerts (Controller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks)|
Last updated: 3 February 2010