Alert: Beware of Phony IRS Forms and Bank Letters

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued an alert to banks, asking them to warn their customers about a new fraud scheme that uses fictitious IRS forms and bank correspondence.

Under the scheme, bank customers receive a letter outlining the procedures that need to be followed to protect the recipient from unnecessary withholding taxes on their bank accounts and other financial dealings. The letter instructs the recipient to fill in the enclosed IRS Form W-9095 and return it within seven days. According to the letter, anyone who doesn't file the form is subject to 31% withholding on interest paid to them. A fax number is provided for the recipient's convenience.

The IRS form is, of course, bogus and is just another attempt at identity theft. Anyone who has filled in the form should contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that their identity has been stolen. Telephone numbers and addresses are provided in the alert, along with additional advice to follow in case your account has been fraudulently accessed or opened. The OCC's advice includes filing a report with the local police department and contacting the IRS's hotline (1-800-829-0433).

Additional information about identity theft is available from the Web sites of the OCC and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

-Rosemary Schlank

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