30 Jul 2018

ATO scams: Learn the 3 main scams & avoid being the next victim…

Being vigilant about your identity, and ensuring that your financial and personal details are secure could prevent you from being the next victim of an ATO scam.

Scams from people pretending to be the ATO are becoming more common; and familiarising yourself with the latest ones is important.

Following are the three main ATO scams to be on the lookout for; and also some advice on how to protect yourself and what to do if you are the victim of a scam.

  1. Fake tax refunds

These usually take one of two forms:

  • Text messages advising that you have tax refunds and requesting information such as your tax file number and bank account details;
  • Emails offering tax refunds from unknown email addresses and requesting you to click on a link. These often have incorrect grammar and spelling, making them easier to identify as scams.

Just remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If you are due a tax refund, you would generally be aware that this was happening because of a lodgement.

The ATO will never ask you to enter your tax file number, bank account details, credit card details or personal information in an email, text message or phone call.

  1. Fake myGov correspondence

Another common ATO scam is an email, phone call or text message claiming to be from myGov.

Be very careful with correspondence that you receive and make sure you review the authenticity of it before responding.

  1. Threatening arrest or court action due to debt

These messages usually take the form of:

  • Voicemail messages that threaten arrest for outstanding tax debt;
  • Threatening phone calls requesting money for outstanding debt, pushing you to pay the money or face arrest, court or deportation.

The ATO has a process to follow when they request payment of debt. They do not make threatening phone calls.

How to minimise your risk with ATO scams

There are several precautions you can take to protect yourself from ATO scams:

  • Make sure you have good antivirus software to protect your devices;
  • Always check the email address of the sender. Contact the ATO directly and query if they have emailed you, if you are unsure;
  • Check the phone number of the caller. If the phone number is not listed as an ATO phone number, then it will not be a genuine ATO phone call;
  • Request the details of the person calling you. Call the ATO directly (phone number is on their website) and ask if they called or contacted you. Don’t call the number that called you as it could be that of the scammer, not the ATO.
Been contacted by an ATO scam? Here’s what to do…

If you suspect an email, phone call or text from an ATO scammer, contact the ATO or your accountant before clicking on any links or responding to the message.

If you suspect a message of being part of a scam, forward the details to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.

Finally, if you have already provided your details to a suspected scammer, report this to the ATO on 1800 008 540, as soon as possible.