Qualified Intermediary Identity Theft Alert
The IRS is warning non-resident aliens and financial institutions servicing non-resident’s monetary accounts of an identity-theft scam using a bogus IRS letter and Form W-8BEN. The phony letter and form ask for non-residents to provide personal information such as account numbers, PINS, mother’s maiden name, and passport number. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN used by financial institutions to establish appropriate tax withholding for foreign individuals does NOT ask for any of these items.
The IRS has advised financial institutions to alert their overseas branches and divisions so they may warn their customers. Those unfamiliar with tax laws may mistakenly believe the IRS would ask for and be entitled to this extremely personal information.
Individuals or financial firms with questions should contact Thomas Chillemi, Qualified Intermediary Program Manager at (212) 298-2101.