Every year at this time scammers come out of the woodwork with new scams and reusing old ones designed to obtain tax information for identify theft and financial fraud purposes. Sometimes these scams are directed at individual taxpayers and at other times they are targeted at businesses and institutions like ours.
The IRS is has already noted a number of scams this year targeting individual recipients by name. Targeted requests are often harder to identify as fraudulent. These often involve sending modified versions of legitimate IRS forms by fax or e-mail and requesting the recipient fill them out and return them. These forms are modified so that the recipient to provides all the personal and financial information the scammer needs to perpetrate their fraud.
A recent example can be seen below:
First the real form W-8BEN used for foreign persons to designate their non-US tax status: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf
Then the fake W-8BEN notice and form some people have been receiving (click to enlarge):
Note in particular the use of a non-IRS e-mail address, the implied urgency: “return to us within 24 hours,” and the insistence on faxing the document rather than using US Mail.
Be especially cautious about any communication that claims to be from the IRS or your employer and that claims to urgently need personal or financial information for tax purposes.
If you receive anything that you believe to be a tax-related scam, you can report it to the IRS here: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing
The IRS also provides the additional information to help protect yourself from “The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams:” http://www.irs.gov/uac/Don%E2%80%99t-Fall-Prey-to-the-2011-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams
And a guide to “Tax Refund Scams:” http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Urges-Taxpayers-to-Avoid-Becoming-Victims-of-Tax-Scams