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Tax time scam alert

Tax time scam alert

DON’T GET CAUGHT!

Have you been contacted recently by someone CLAIMING to be from the ATO regarding monies owed or payable? Before you act, contact us to ensure the caller is legitimate!

SCAMwatch and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are urging individuals and small business to be aware of scammers taking advantage of tax time to initiate a new round of scams. (SCAMwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams).

Scammers pretending to be from the ATO are approaching individuals and small business owners via phone or email and may claim that you have overpaid your tax and are entitled to a refund (asking you to pay a tax or administration fee upfront in order for the money to be released). Another scam asserts that you owe money due to a miscalculation from the previous financial year. The scammers may also ‘fish’ for your details by asking you to verify personal information.

Yet another scam involves the scammers phoning and claiming to be from the prosecutions department of the ATO.  They then state that they believe you have committed fraud and the Sheriff’s Office has been called.  You can of course make this all go away by transferring cash using the details they provide or by giving your details to them.

All of it is fake!

There are a number of variations to this fake arrest warrant scam. In some cases a message is left on an answering machine obliging the person to call back.

Understandably for those with outstanding tax debt, these calls can cause concern.

If you receive a call like this, you should feel free to hang up.  We can contact the ATO on your behalf to verify if there are any known issues.

The ATO advises that from time to time it will send taxpayers emails, SMS messages or official social media updates alerting them to new services. However, the ATO will never request personal or financial information by SMS or email.

If you receive a call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to represent the ATO and that you are entitled to, or owe money – just hang up or delete the email. You can then call the ATO on 13 28 69 or contact us to discuss the nature of the call.

How these scams work

The following are some of the most common tax time scams to be aware of:

  • Tax refund scams – these scams typically involve the scammer telling you that you have overpaid your tax and are now entitled to a tax refund. In order to receive the refund, the scammer claims that you will first need to pay an ‘administration’ or ‘transfer’ fee via money transfer. They may also ask for your financial details, claiming that this is for the purpose of transferring the money to you.
  • Tax owed scams – scammers will claim that you have underpaid your tax and are now required to repay the tax debt immediately. They may request your credit card details or ask you to pay the outstanding amount via a money transfer. They may also ask you to purchase a pre-paid debit card, such as a ‘Load and Go’ card from your local post office, and then send them the card details so that they can access the money.
  • Phishing emails – scammers will often try to steal your identity or money by sending you an email that pretends to be from a trusted entity such as the ATO. The scammer will ‘fish’ for your personal details by trying to get you to fill in a form, or click on a link that will allow them to infect your computer with viruses and malware.

Protect yourself

  • If you receive an email or phone call out of the blue from ‘the ATO’ claiming that you are entitled to a refund, that you owe money or asking you to confirm, update or disclose confidential details like your tax file number, press ‘delete’ or just hang up. Verify the caller or sender by contacting the ATO on 13 28 69.
  • The ATO advises that you should be very careful with whom you share your tax file number (TFN).
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in, or reply to, suspicious emails – they may take you to a bogus website or contain a malicious virus.
  • Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

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