Scam involves iTunes cards
Phone scammers who are posing as Australian Tax Office officers and threatening to arrest people over tax debts that don’t exist are causing public anxiety and monetary loss in WA.
This scam has been around for years but an unusual new element involves iTunes cards being used as a payment method.
Recently, a 52-year-old from Mandurah reported to Consumer Protection that she had bought more than $7000 worth of iTunes cards from a Woolworths store to pay off a supposed tax debt and avoid arrest. She responded in panic to an answerphone message on her landline that she thought was from the ATO.
A subsequent mobile phone call lasted four hours.
The scammer falsely claimed the woman was being monitored, that her bank accounts would be seized if she didn’t co-operate and that iTunes cards could be used as bonds.
Authorities in Victoria and South Australia have received similar reports.
Ways to pay the ATO can be found on their official website www.ato.gov.au. They do not accept payment in the form of: iTunes cards. Pre-paid debit cards, such as ones from Australia Post, supermarkets or department stores.
Electronic payment vouchers including Ukash.
Wire transfer such as Western Union, Moneygram or Alipay.
The ATO does not make urgent or aggressive calls and would write to you in the first instance if there was any tax issue.
They would never call out-of-the-blue to say you will be taken into custody unless you make payment immediately.
If you or anyone you know receives a phone call supposedly from the ATO threatening arrest or legal action our advice is to: Put the phone down. Do not respond to numbers supplied in an automated call.
Delete any messages left on an answerphone or voicemail.
Speak to someone about the scam to put your mind at ease.
Call the ATO on 1800 008 540 or WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54.
Either of our agencies will confirm you are not in any trouble.
Gwynneth Haywood is the senior regional officer for Consumer Protection.
Scammers posing as Australian Tax Office officers are claiming iTunes cards can be used to pay off debts. Picture: Danella Bevis