It has come to our attention that fraudsters are sending out modified W-8BEN forms in order to gain access to private information. Please, remember that you should only submit Form W-8BEN directly to your withholding agent (ex. US customer).
The Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding is a legitimate U.S. tax exemption document that you can find on the IRS website.
However, non-residents of the U.S. are typically targeted by fraudsters who will use the W-8BEN format and ask for details that are not on the original form, such as:
- mother’s maiden name,
- passport number,
- PIN numbers and passcodes.
The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN, does not ask for any of that information. Please also note that the IRS will NOT contact you by email.
The fraudulent forms use various angles that may claim, for example:
- Anti-money laundering regulations require a review of your client information and ask you to complete the form.
- You are exempt from tax reporting and withholdings on income including interest paid to you. To protect your exemption from tax please complete the attached form.
What to do if you receive such a scam form via email, fax, mail, or other format?
- Do not reply to the email
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
- Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS’s identity protection page.
- Forward the email as-is, to the IRS at email@example.com.
- After you forward the email and/or header information to us, delete the original email message you received.
- More information can be found on the IRS website.