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fraud recognition & prevention education, fraud victim advocacy, law enforcement support

Fraud recognition & prevention education, fraud victim advocacy, law enforcement support

                    

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New Fraud Alert!

Swindlers use phony IRS Form W-9095

and official-looking bank letter.

Reported in Maine, New York, Texas, California, Georgia, North Carolina and Washington state

 

Scam looks like official bank business
Copyright 2002 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
Detroit Free Press...05/08/2002

Copyright/Terms of Use: http://webpublisher.lexisnexis.com/terms.asp


By Susan Tompor

A bank letter being sent to consumers has a creepy air of authority.

The supposed bank says it must update records to pinpoint customers who are exempt from the withholding tax on interest paid on their bank accounts.

The mailing includes what looks like an official Internal Revenue Service form, called Form W-9095, and asks you for personal information.

And now the most disturbing part: The letter actually mentions the name of your bank. For all you know, this is from your bank.

But what you're looking at is a new trick involving phony bank correspondence and fake IRS forms.

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If you get one of these things, do not fill it out. Giving away private information can lead to a financial mess after someone steals your money and your good name, and damages your credit record.

And if the con artists send you a letter, contact your bank and immediately report the letter to the Treasury inspector general's hot line at 800-366-4484.

"These are some bad boys," said Sarah Wreford, an IRS spokeswoman in Detroit. "Of all the scams and schemes I've seen over the years, this one really disturbs me. It just looks so real. And that's why it's scary."

The fake IRS form asks where you worked for the last 12 months, your Social Security number, your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your bank account PIN, the date and amount of your last deposit, the account name and the date it was opened.

They stop short of asking you to send them a check to cover costs. But after they get all this data, they don't need your check. They can get what they want on their own.

The data could be used to run up charges on a victim's existing credit cards, apply for loans or file fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax credits or refunds.

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Sure, there are some clues that things aren't quite right:

One, there is no IRS Form W-9095. Go to the IRS Web site, http://www.irs.gov, plug in the number and see for yourself.

Two, banks do not typically withhold taxes in relation to your bank accounts. Banks withhold tax on the interest paid on bank accounts only if the IRS or the customer requests it.

Three, the folks sending the letter are in a rush. They give you seven days to fax in a form.

What alarms me is that I could see people, especially some elderly consumers, falling for this. Federal agencies aren't saying how many people have been scammed. But the IRS has received about three dozen complaints so far this spring.

The scam has been reported in Maine, New York, Texas, California, Georgia, North Carolina and Washington state.

How do the bad guys know where you bank? Maybe you threw away a canceled check or bank statements without first shredding them and the information was picked up by dumpster divers.

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If you are a fraud victim, notify your bank, think about closing your account, file a local police report and contact the credit reporting bureaus. 

Equifax Credit Information Systems is at 800-525-6285.  Experian is at 888-397-3742. And 

Trans Union is at 800-680-7289.

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(c) 2002, Detroit Free Press.

Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at http://www.freep.com.

Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners FRAUDINFO NEWSLETTER, May 8, 2002 - Vol. 4, No. 19

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