The Australian Competition and Consumer |Commission (the ACCC) is warning Australians to steer clear of tax scams, after more than $1 million has been reported lost to their “Scamwatch” already in 2016, with over 300 people reporting they lost money to tax scams in the first half of 2016. According to the ACCC, these scams often use personal information found online and ask for payment for “unpaid debts”.
Scam phone calls often look like they come from local phone numbers but most use voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone numbers to disguise the fact that they are calling from overseas.
While it does make outbound calls to taxpayers, the ATO said that it would never “cold call” taxpayers about unpaid debts, would never threaten jail or arrest or behave in an aggressive manner. Further, while it does send taxpayer emails, SMS messages or official social media updates about new services from time-to-time, the ATO will never request personal or financial information by SMS or email. If personal details were required, the recipient would be redirected to ATO online services.
To check whether an email or a call is genuine, call the ATO on its official contact number, 1800 008 540. Suspected ATO email scams can be reported by forwarding the original email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au. Scams can also be reported to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.
This article appeared in our August 2015 newsletter.