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Law firms routinely collect and issue W9 and 1099 forms. But if you receive an email requesting a tax form and weren’t expecting it, think twice. Ask yourself:
How did the email arrive? Via a website contact form, via your blog, or addressed to a specific person in your firm who would deal with such matters?
Do you recognize the sender?
Does the sender’s domain exist?
Does contact information given in the email match what you find on the web?
Do your records reflect that you did business with the sender this year?
Does any part of the email message seem “off?”
Remember scams can seem innocuous, even apologetic:
We are updating our new financial software and see that we don’t have a current W-9 or your tax id number in our system. If we could get this at your earliest convenience that would be wonderful. We realize and understand that you are tax exempt, but we would love to have the information fully entered into your new system. Thank you for your help and understanding. If you would like you can fax it to XXX-XXX-XXXX. Have a great day!
When a request seems fishy (we understand you are tax exempt?) or oddly worded (we would love to have the information fully entered into your new system?!) take the time to independently verify legitimacy. Check your records, run a web search on the purported sender, and pick up the phone. Don’t use the contact information given in the suspicious email. Avoid replying, submitting a fax, or clicking on any links the message may include. Most importantly, educate staff on all levels and keep your antennae up for new variations of scams.