25 September 2023

Rampant scams prompt tax attack

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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has reported that scammers had been particularly active during November with more than $800,000 reportedly lost.

Assistant Taxation Commissioner, Kath Anderson said that over the past month the ATO had noted an increase in scam phone calls, especially those using software that resembled a legitimate phone number to disguise the caller’s true identity.

“The ATO does not project our numbers using caller ID,” Ms Anderson said.

“You can be confident that if there is a number displayed in your caller ID, it isn’t the ATO.”

She said ATO had received more than 37,000 reports of scam attempts in November alone, with one elderly person losing more than $236,000 to scammers between June and November this year.

She urged people to be aware of scammers pretending to be from the Tax Office.

“Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if you weren’t expecting it,” Ms Anderson said.

“While the ATO regularly contacts taxpayers by phone, email and SMS, there are some tell-tale signs that it isn’t the ATO.”

She said the ATO would not use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten arrest, jail or deportation; it would not request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that wasn’t either 092-009 or 093-003.

It would not request a fee in order to release a refund, or send an email or SMS asking the person to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.

“If you suspect that you have been contacted by a scammer, you should contact our call centre,” Ms Anderson said.

“It’s OK to hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.”

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