Faculty & Departments

Be Aware, Be Alert!

Dangers you could encounter -- Be careful!

In the Fall of many calendar years various scams and attempts at identity theft appear.  You need to know that such exist to avoid falling into their trap.
Here is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web page with information how to recognize and avoid such dangers.  At times the scams try to impersonate the IRS.  The site also helps you identify how scams work and provides suggestions what to do should you find a scam.

All international visitors need to be aware of this scam, and should also know that the IRS does not request Form W-8BEN from individuals; it is requested by the entities making payments to them, such as banks, brokerages, scholarship or fellowship grantors, etc.  Also, the IRS never initiates any type of contact with a taxpayer via email or fax.
Here is what the IRS says about a Beneficial Owner Form scam found in the fall of 2011:  
     “Beneficial Owner Form — This fax-based phishing scam, which generally targets foreign nationals, recurs periodically. It’s based on a genuine IRS form, the W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. The scammer, though, invents his or her own number and name for the form. The scammer modifies the form to request passport numbers, information that is often used for account security purposes (such as mother’s maiden name) and similar detailed personal and financial information, and states that the recipient may have to pay additional tax if he or she fails to immediately fax back the completed form. In reality, the real W-8BEN form is completed by banks, not individuals.”

Click here to view an example a recent version of the scam takes.