Editor: Unbelievably, scammers are still successfully bilking Australians out of tens of thousands of dollars, as a recent ATO scam report shows.
According to the July 2019 ATO impersonation scam report:
- 6,179 online scam reports were received in the first month of their new online reporting form going live;
- 6,645 phone scam reports were officially recorded, and 465 phishing scam emails were reported to email@example.com;
- 520 taxpayers provided scammers with their personal identifying information including date of birth, tax file number, driver’s licence number and notice of assessment details; and
- $197,057 was reported as being paid to scammers, mostly by iTunes and Google Play.
Scammers threaten thousands of Australians each year by claiming to be the ATO via various methods including:
- Unsolicited pre-recorded messages (robocalls).
- Using fake “legitimate” landline numbers on the caller ID on your call log.
- Demanding immediate payment and keeping you on the line until you pay (they may advise that hanging up will trigger the arrest warrant).
- They may refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent and;
- Even start a conference call with fake tax professionals and law enforcement officers to make the call seem legit.
Emails and Text Messages
- Scammers may send a text message requesting you provide your personal identifying and financial institution details via a return SMS or email in order to receive a refund.
- They may send you a hyperlink in a text message or email to log on to a fake online service and;
- Create fake social media accounts and ask for personal identifying information or money on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Whatsapp.
Things to watch out for
Scammers will often request payment via a number of different methods. These include:
- iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers (This is not a legitimate ATO payment method.)
- Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency either directly or deposited into an ATM (This is not a legitimate ATO payment method.)
- Request you pay money into a personal bank account (The ATO will never ask you to pay your tax debt into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Check the Bank-State-Branch (BSB))
- Request you pay money via offshore wire transfer (where the scammers are located)
- Request you pay a fee to receive a refund usually by credit card. Credit card information is often stolen.
- Offer payment arrangements if you can’t pay the full amount. This is done to increase instances of payments and the total amount paid.
Legitimate methods of paying the ATO can be found here.
If you have a feeling something isn’t right, trust your gut feeling and reach out to the ATO to verify or report a scam.
Have you received some suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from the ATO? If you are ever unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, do not reply. You should phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 and report it.