26 September 2023

Tax Office warns against national scams

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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is busting scam myths to take the necessary guesswork out of the ways to keep personal information safe.

Assistant Commissioner at the ATO, Tim Loh said that in the past 12 months, the Office had identified and taken action against 595 websites impersonating on its online services.

“These fake sites are designed to steal passwords, personal information and identity documents such as passports and driver licences,” Mr Loh said.

“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of SMS and email scams leading to fake myGov sign-in pages – we’ve had more than 360 of these scams reported since April 2022,” he said.

“However, we see many different types of tax and super scams happening year-round, not just in the lead up to tax time.

“This year, the ATO has taken out the guess work and busted some scam myths to help people stay protected.”

Mr Loh said scammers were always looking for new ways to convince unsuspecting taxpayers to divulge personal information, such as bank details, usernames and passwords.

The Assistant Commissioner said the first myth the ATO wanted to bust was that only older people fell for scams.

He said that in the past three years, younger Australians had fallen victim to the most tax scams.

“We want Gen Z and Millennials to know they need to watch out too, as they are just as susceptible to falling for scams, especially those that involve fake tax debts or threats about alleged fraud,” Mr Loh said

“In 2021, people aged 25 to 34 reported the most amount of money lost to tax scams, closely followed by those aged 18 to 24.

“In contrast, those aged 55 and above were among those who reported the least financial losses to us.”

Busting the second scam myth, he warned that email and SMS scams were not always full of typos, bad grammar, and promises of riches from foreign royalty.

Mr Loh said the ATO was seeing many more sophisticated scam messages that used official language and fraudulent websites that mimicked its online services.

He said scams didn’t only happen during tax time.

“While you may only focus on your tax when it’s time to lodge, scammers are constantly looking for ways to steal your personal details and financial information,” he said.

“We see different types of tax and super scams happening year-round.”

Mr Loh said the top three types of tax and super scams reported to the ATO in 2021 were threats of arrest, fraudulent TFN activity and fake tax debts.

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