Scams played on iTune cards

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH -

with Act­ing Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner David Hill­yard PHONE scam­mers, pos­ing as the Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice (ATO) and threat­en­ing to ar­rest peo­ple over tax debts that do not ex­ist, are caus­ing pub­lic anx­i­ety and mon­e­tary loss in WA.

The scam has been around for years but an un­usual new el­e­ment in­volves iTunes cards as a pay­ment method.

In re­cent days, a 52-year-old woman 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 an­swer-phone 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 did not co-op­er­ate and that iTunes cards could be used as bonds.

Ways to pay the ATO can be found on their of­fi­cial web­site: It does not ac­cept pay­ment in the form of iTunes cards.

It also does not make ur­gent, ag­gres­sive calls and would write to you in the first in­stance if there was any tax is­sue they needed to re­solve with you. Staff would never phone out-of-the-blue to say you will be taken into cus­tody un­less you make pay­ment to them im­me­di­ately.

If you or any­one you know re­ceives a phone call sup­pos­edly from the ATO threat­en­ing ar­rest or le­gal ac­tion over an un­paid tax debt, do not be afraid.

Our advice is to put the phone down. If you speak with scam­mers, you en­able them to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion from you to help them tar­get you fur­ther.

Do not re­spond to num­bers sup­plied in an au­to­mated call and delete any mes­sages left on an an­swer-phone or voice­mail ser­vice.

Fi­nally, speak to some­one you trust about the scam call to put your mind at ease. You can call the ATO on 1800 008 540 or WA ScamNet at Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion on 1300 30 40 54. Ei­ther of our agen­cies will con­firm it is a scam and you are not in any trou­ble.

A way to fight back is to talk with rel­a­tives, neigh­bours and other peo­ple in our community who could be at risk.

If you work some­where that sells iTunes gift cards and some­one tries to buy thou­sands of dol­lars-worth in one trans­ac­tion per­haps you could gen­tly warn them about scams or of­fer to call us at Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

You can also spread the word via so­cial me­dia by shar­ing Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion WA’s Face­book posts and tweets.

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