U.S. Banking Information Scam

Summer 2005 CSANews Issue 55  |  Posted date : May 20, 2007.Back to list

This latest scam involves the misuse of the W8-BEN form (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding). The W8-BEN form is filed with a U.S.-based financial institution when a non U.S. resident (such as a Canadian snowbird) earns interest on deposits or investments held by that financial institution.

The bogus W8-BEN form does not resemble the authentic form. Of course, only a trained eye would notice the difference. Keep in mind that the bogus form requires personal identity questions, such as mother's maiden name, passport number, bank account numbers and arrival/departure travel dates. The legitimate W8-BEN form does NOT contain these questions. The bogus form also contains a fax number to which the individual is directed to return the completed form.

To avoid this scam, do not complete any form requesting personal or financial information without first checking with your U.S. financial institution. Make every effort to complete and return such forms to your financial institution IN PERSON rather than by fax or e-mail.

The CSA has notified PhoneBusters of this scam. PhoneBusters advises that CSA members who receive the illegitimate form do not need to contact their office UNLESS they have inadvertently returned the completed bogus form and are therefore now at risk.