August 12, 2005
US Embassy warns of ID scam

The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are warning non-resident individuals in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean who receive income from a United States source that they may be targeted in an identity theft scheme.

The scam, which surfaced last year in the region and has appeared again recently, uses phony IRS correspondence and an altered IRS form to trick people into disclosing their personal and financial data, which is then used to steal their identity and financial assets. {{more}}

The IRS warns that you should NOT respond to this request. Taxpayers should be very wary of strangers trying to obtain sensitive personal information, whether in person, over the phone, through the mail or online.

As part of the scam, an altered IRS Form W-8BEN is sent, with correspondence purportedly from the IRS, to non-U.S. residents who may have income from the United States. The correspondence claims the recipient will be taxed unless they submit the requested personal and financial data.

The real IRS form is used to determine whether a non-citizen is subject to withholding tax. It DOES NOT ask for personal information except, in some cases, a Social Security or IRS-Generated Taxpayer Identification Number. In addition, the recipient’s financial institution, not the IRS, sends the genuine form.

If anyone receives these fraudulent forms they should immediately contact the IRS Criminal Investigations Office at the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados at 246-436-4950, ext 2434.