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Fake Form W-8BEN Used in IRS Tax Scams

Remember:
You can only submit Form W-8BEN directly to your
withholding agent.

The Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) is a legitimate U.S. tax exemption document.

However, fraudsters typically target non-residents of the U.S. and use the W-8BEN format to acquire personal details such as,

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

The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN, does not ask for any of that information.
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 do I do if I receive such a scam form via email, fax, mail, or other format?

  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.

Related information

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 24-Mar-2014