Timely reminder to stay vigilant against tax time scammers
17 September 2018
A fresh warning from the ATO has been released regarding a reported spike in scammer activity.
Posing as tax agents, scammers have been tricking victims into paying large amounts of money, under the guise of ATO imposed fines.
This particular scam involves a three way phone conversation where one scammer impersonates a victim’s tax agent, while another impersonates an ATO staff member.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson has described a recent example of the magnitude of this scam.
“One recent example had a taxpayer unfortunately thinking the telephone conversation was legitimate, and ended up withdrawing thousands of dollars in cash and depositing it into a Bitcoin ATM, fearing the police had a warrant out for his arrest” she said.
The Assistant Commissioner went on to say that over 7000 scams were reported to the ATO between July and August, with scammers netting almost $190,000, and the personal or financial information of over 1600 victims.
The ATO advises taxpayers be cautious when receiving unexpected phone calls, emails, text messages or letters regarding tax refunds or debts, and has issued some guidelines on how to tell if someone is impersonating the ATO.
The ATO will not:
- use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation;
- request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency (for example bitcoin ATM) or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn’t either 092-009 or 093-003;
- request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you; or
- email or SMS you asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.”
If you’re unsure, you can check the legitimacy of the requested payment method via the ATO website: ato.gov.au/howtopay
And if you suspect you’ve been contacted by a scammer posing as an ATO tax agent, you can find out how to report the scam to the ATO and relevant authorities here
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