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urgent: is it safe to send a W-9 form from a commercial fax?
Thread poster: Susana Galilea
Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 1, 2006

One for the "pardon my paranoia" files...

A client phoned me to request my Social Security number for their tax filing, which they claim they need "immediately", and I promised I would fax them a W-9 form with the requested info. I don't own a fax, and was planning to fax the paperwork from the "remesas" store in my neighborhood. Thought I'd check with my savvy colleagues to make sure this is a safe procedure. Oh, and I need your input "immediately"

...or would you just give out the info on the phone? (this is a legit client).

Many thanks,

Susana

[Edited at 2006-02-01 20:55]


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:38
I'd rather give it over the phone... Feb 1, 2006

In that way, you are almost sure just one pair of "ears" heard it, and then your words will be lost in the wind.

If you send it by fax, you will never know how many pairs of "eyes" saw it, how many "brains" might have bad thoughts about using it, and the number will remain forever printed in a piece of paper over which you have no control!

I hope this will not add to the general paranoia. I answered as fast as I could. Hope it helps!


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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:38
Turkish to English
+ ...
Different options available Feb 1, 2006

Hi Susana,
I understand your concerns. If the fax is available in a public area there is always a chance that someone could get a hold of it or see it. If you are sure that this person just has access to it you could fax it. It really depends on privacy policies at the company and public fax site. Another option is you could scan the document and send it as an attachment in an email.
I would say the most secure way would be the telephone. That way it is just you and the party on the other side.


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:38
Member (2002)
English to German
Hmmm Feb 1, 2006

Hi Susana,

Well, I believe that there is a slight chance that the owner of the commercial fax office keeps copies of all faxes sent for his own pleasure. So you might not want to use a vendor with dark sunglasses in a suspicious neighbourhood who also asks for additional information like date of birth, annual income, credit limit and shopping preferences.
But other than that I would be pretty relaxed about sending such a fax.

Best regards
Andy

www.interlations.com

PS: Why not also buy a fax machine. I would recommend that, especially if you only know vendors of the above type...


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
someone's been watching too many Joe Pesci movies :))) Feb 1, 2006

Andy Lemminger wrote:
So you might not want to use a vendor with dark sunglasses in a suspicious neighbourhood who also asks for additional information like date of birth, annual income, credit limit and shopping preferences.


Oh no, the ladies at the "remesas" store are very nice

I just have the same concerns Rosi brought up, since there is no way to know what kind of a record remains when you fax a document from a commercial facility.

I normally send all W-9 forms by regular mail, to avoid this kind of dilemma, but time is of the essence in this case.

I don't own a fax because I rarely have the need for it, and I use an e-fax service to receive the odd fax sent to me.

I hesitate to give out my S.S.# over the phone as a matter of principle, since you never know how many ears are tuned to your conversation (heard the news, lately?). I suppose it's different in the case of verified accounting staff from a legit client, but thought I'd check all the same.

Many thanks for your prompt replies

Susana

[Edited at 2006-02-01 21:37]


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:38
English to Dutch
+ ...
It's OK to be careful Feb 1, 2006

but at the same time, we shouldn't get paranoid.

If you go to your local fax place, see them put the fax in, take the fax out and give the report generated by the machine back to you, I think you're covered and needn't worry.

Otherwise you start on the slippery slope that ends with not getting out of bed because "they" might get you. Which doesn't make you fully secure either, after all, the bed can break and the resulting fall can break your neck!


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
indeed Feb 2, 2006

Benno Groeneveld wrote:
Otherwise you start on the slippery slope that ends with not getting out of bed because "they" might get you. Which doesn't make you fully secure either, after all, the bed can break and the resulting fall can break your neck!


I decided to call in the information this time around, but will keep in mind all feedback for future occasions.

Thanks everyone for the handholding

Susana


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MultiPro  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:38
Member (2006)
English to French
+ ...
Nothing to fear if you... Feb 2, 2006

...keep the form and retrieve it afterwards.

Companies do usually request this form to be faxed. I usually do it from home, but last month, I was travelling, and when requesting the info, I faxed it from Kinko's.
You don't have to hand it in to nobody since you are the one using the copier machine. After transmission, you get the fax report, the faxed documentation and you pick up your original.

Voilà ! Don't leave your form over the glass!... Suerte Susana.

is it safe to send a W-9 form from a commercial fax?


[Edited at 2006-02-02 19:06]


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
not quite Feb 2, 2006

MultiPro wrote:
You don't have to hand it in to nobody since you are the one using the copier machine. After transmission, you get the fax report, the faxed documentation and you pick up your original.



This is a small store that mostly handles shipping and phone calls to Latin America, and they offer a fax service as well. The fax machines are behind the counter and you have to hand your document to the employee who will fax it.

But you give me an idea, surely there must be a Kinko's somewhere around here. Probably right next to a Starbucks

Susana


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