Well, this is sort of a deviation from what I thought I was going to post, but it’s still relevant and since it happened only minutes ago very current!
I’m the Treasurer for a non-profit organization. Today I received a message on my home phone from Bank of America, which is where our accounts are held. This is the message:
“Hi. This is Darren (no last name) from the Bank of America. Some information that you reported on your W-9 bounced back to us and we need you to call and confirm your Federal Tax ID. If you call and get a message you can leave the information on our answering machine. Thank you, have a great day.”
Well, that’s an odd message. We’ve been doing business with them forever, and we complete the same W-9 form every year. In fact, I have only one W-9 and I’ve been sending the same one to all requestors all year and nobody else has called and said there were any problems. Hmmmmm.
So, I look at the Caller ID. It’s Out-of-Area. That’s weird too because when they call to sell me a mortgage their name shows up (that’s how I know not to answer the phone!). So, I call the number. It’s a machine that does not say, “you’ve reached Bank of America” it says “you’ve reached the processing center…please input your account number so we can better serve you”. Wow.
So, I input “0”, and someone picks up and she also does not introduce herself as a Bank of America employee. I explain the message that I received and my complete disbelief that if this really was the Bank of America that anyone in the financial services industry would seriously be asking these questions over the phone or expecting that they would be responded to.
She explained that Bank of America acts as processors for other institutions and therefore they don’t say their name on the phone because someone could be calling who is a customer from another bank.
And then she asked me for my taxpayer identification number! I explained that she would need to mail me the request, and that I had no intention of providing that information over the phone.
So, now I’ll wait for the letter in the mail! And the scary thing is, I actually think that was a legitimate call from the Bank of America, and I can’t believe in these times that it was made!