There are many ATO scammers out there, reputing to be the ATO and using various different means to extract money out of taxpayers.
Many of these fraudsters are very clever and will go to great lengths to appear legitimate.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The ATO have been very active in raising awareness of the many types of scams and increasing the public’s knowledge of what to look out for. These ATO scammers are particularly active around tax time so we thought we’d assist the ATO in raising scam awareness by sharing some of the key characteristics to look out for, as outlined by the ATO.
Typical scam communications:
- are unsolicited,
- are pushy and can be intimidating, threatening arrests or penalties if payment for an unknown tax debt is not made immediately,
- demand payment in full and in some instances via unconventional means such as iTunes cards, cash transfers or gift vouchers,
- ask you for your personal or financial information or to confirm information they pretend they have,
- are often poorly worded, containing spelling and grammatical mistakes,
- may promise you a tax refund in exchange for a payment or personal information,
- may contain an attachment or fake links requesting you to lodge a form – opening these attachments or links can cause you to download spyware or a virus.
If you suspect a communication from the ATO is a scam, you are encouraged to:
Suspicious phone call:
- hang up immediately
- call the ATO’s dedicated scam reporting line 1800 008 540 between 8am–6pm EST, Monday to Friday.
- report to Scamwatch if you receive the call out of office hours
- refrain from clicking on links or opening attachments
- forward the email to [email protected]
Assistant Commissioner Janine Clark reiterates:
If you do have a debt, we would have written to you first. If we do ring you, our staff will identify themselves and let you know how you can call us back.
Ms Clark goes on to assure tax payers,
We will never request the payment of a tax debt via gift or pre-paid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards. Nor will we ask for direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account. “And if the person calling you is rude and aggressive, threatening police or legal action if you don’t do something immediately – it’s not the ATO.
Read more about the iTunes Voucher Fraud and the advice from Assistant Commissioner, Janine Clark in the ATO’s post Don’t get played by iTunes scammers
Verifying communications and reporting ATO scammers
- If you’re suspicious a document, phone call or request appearing to be from the ATO is a scam the easiest way to confirm one way or another is to ask the ATO directly. Call them on 13 28 61 and ask them to confirm that the request you’ve received is legitimate.
- If you think you may already be the a victim of a tax related scam, contact the ATO as soon as possible on 1800 008 540. Your personal details and Tax File Number may have been compromised so it’s important that you act quickly.
- If you have provided credit card details you should also contact your bank as soon as possible too.
ATO Scammers: Examples
We highly recommend you see and read about the examples of email, phone and mobile scams that the ATO have posted. Knowing what to look out for and what to do if you suspect a scam, could save you and others a good deal of heartache, and money.
Content sourced and quoted from the ATO website
ATO scammers will undoubtedly continue to try to dupe tax payers into parting with personal information and money so it’s important to do what you can to protect yourself from their attempts.
- Be vigilant – if you have any doubts about a communication from the ATO, don’t be afraid to cease it or delete it immediately. You can always contact the ATO to verify whether it was genuine. Read the ATOs post on “How to verify or report a scam” so you know what to look out for.
- Remember, the ATO will never request your personal information like tax file number or credit card details over the phone or in an email and will never demand money or threaten you in any way. So NEVER give personal details to anyone over the phone or in an SMS or email.
- As an added buffer, you can use a tax agent who will look after and lodge your tax returns for you. A tax agent can also verify any ATO payments, owed or due, are correct.
Etax Local Client Portal: Added Security
Etax Local provide all clients with access to a secure client portal so there is no need to email, mail or deliver sensitive information for your tax returns. Simply upload everything directly into the portal which is protected by bank grade encryption – Simple, Safe and Secure.