Scam in­volves iTunes cards

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood

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

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