Scamwatch Radar Alert
Tax scam warningPosted: Thursday August 18, 2016
Recently a tax scam warning was brought to our attention by Scamwatch. Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides information to consumers about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging Australians to hang up on and delete tax scams after more than $1 million was reported lost to Scamwatch already this year, with over 300 people reporting that they lost money to tax scams in the first half of the year. This is compared with 400 people who reported losing money in the 12 months previous, with $1.6 million lost in total.
These scams often use personal information they found online to try and convince you they’re legitimate. They usually ask for payment for an “unpaid debt” via wire money transfer, credit card, direct debit cards or even iTunes cards. The call looks like it comes from a local phone number but most use voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone numbers to disguise the fact that they are calling from overseas.
“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 press delete. You can check whether they’re the real deal by calling the ATO on its official contact number: 1800 008 540,” Ms Rickard said.
How to Further 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 its official contact number: 1800 008 540.
- The ATO advises that you should be very careful with whom you share your tax file number (TFN). Never put your tax file number (TFN) on your resume – only give it to your employer after you have started your job. Never share your TFN, myGov or bank account details on social media.
- You should also change your passwords if you have shared them with anyone, including family and friends.
- The ATO also advises that if you use a tax agent, make sure they are registered by checking at www.tpb.gov.au/onlineregister.
- Don’t reply to suspicious emails, open any attachments or click on any links – 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.
You can also report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995. You should also spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.