26 September 2023

ATO warns taxpayers of non-ATO scammers

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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging taxpayers to be vigilant after receiving reports of fake websites offering to provide tax file numbers (TFN) and Australian business numbers (ABN).

Assistant Commissioner at the ATO, Tim Loh said the fake TFN and ABN services were often advertised on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“The advertisements offer to obtain a TFN or ABN for a fee,” Mr Loh said.

“Instead of delivering this service, the scammer uses these fraudulent websites to steal both money and personal information,” he said.

“Scammers are constantly developing new ways to target the community, and we expect to see more of these malicious attempts to steal identity details in the lead up to tax time.”

Mr Loh said more than 50,000 people reported ATO impersonation scams in 2021, with victims losing a total of more than $800,000.

“We are concerned about a recent increase in the number of victims reporting scams around TFN and ABN applications,” the Assistant Commissioner said.

“We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud.”

My Loh offered some tips to help people protect themselves from tax scammers, including that people should know their tax affairs.

He said people would be notified about their tax debt before it was due and could check if a debt was legitimate by logging into their myGov account, via an independent search, or calling their tax agent.

Mr Loh said people should guard their personal and financial information by being careful when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments, and “only give your personal information to people you trust and don’t share it on social media.”

“If you are unsure, don’t engage – If a call, SMS or email leaves you wondering if it is genuine, don’t reply,” he advised.

Mr Loh also advised people to educate themselves about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO and to talk to their family and friends about scams.

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