Fake Form W-8BEN Used in IRS Tax Scams
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,
- 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?
- Do not reply.
- 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 our identity protection page.
- Forward the email as-is, to us at email@example.com.
- After you forward the email and/or header information to us, delete the original email message you received.
- Non-resident Aliens with U.S. Income
Using fictitious correspondence and an altered IRS Form W-8BEN, this scheme tries to get personal and financial data from foreign nationals. IR-2004-104 [Aug. 3, 2004] and IR-2004-75 [June 1, 2004] have details.
- Main IRS Phishing resource page
- Phishing and Other Schemes Using the IRS Name
- Main IRS Identity Theft resource page
- U.S. Withholding Agent Frequently Asked Questions