My sister always says, “Don’t trust anyone!” What you can trust is that someone will try to take advantage of you in every context, or pray upon your need and a lack of knowledge.
Just today a client called from a bank to say that she “Needs a federal tax ID number, an EIN,” right away for the bank. I volunteered to get it for her on-line, which takes about 5 min. But her banker told her that the bank could do it and that it was not necessary to have me do it. About an hour later, the client called and gave me the number and told me that she had to pay $275 for the privilege of getting a number within 5 min. Her credit card was charged, and yes, her ID number was sent on-line to her via the bank.
When she told me the story I was shocked. I had never heard of the IRS requiring payment to get a tax ID number. This is likely because they know that if they give you a reporting number they can track you and make you pay much more than the money that they would charge for the number. In fact they want to encourage taxpayers to comply.
So I had the client hold, accessed the IRS website online, asked to apply for an SS4, and was led to a form to fill out. Done, and it would have been completed within five min free of charge. I felt so badly for this client that I took the time on the phone to look on the net, and sure enough there were a bunch of “ads” (in 10 pt. font) that one could click on and then have them obtain the number and charge you a fee. No! No! No!
Needless to say the banker was ignorant and got played and the client was hurt. I will encourage the client to give me the name of the banker, and inform her that I think those funds should be refunded to the client. A bank employee should know this stuff. So beware.