Wise up to tax scams

Scam­mers have tar­geted tax­pay­ers, so you need to stay alert to their tricks, writes

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Busi­ness woman, Shark Tank judge and RedBal­loon founder Naomi Sim­son. SCAM­MERS are step­ping up their at­tacks on tax­pay­ers by pre­tend­ing to be Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice staff, but se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists say you can still spot their tricks.

The Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice says that in the first six months of this year it re­ceived re­ports of al­most 29,000 ATO im­per­son­ation scams.

Scam­mers will de­mand pay­ments for false debts, or of­fer false re­funds if you give them your per­sonal de­tails, and their ac­tiv­ity is ex­pected to in­ten­sify in the next few weeks.

An­thony Keane

An ATO spokes­woman said scam­mers were ac­tive around tax time be­cause many peo­ple were think­ing about lodg­ing a re­turn and re­ceiv­ing a re­fund.

“If you re­ceive com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the ATO to say you have a re­fund avail­able, but that you need to up­date your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion or pay money be­fore re­ceiv­ing the re­fund, then it is more than likely a scam,” she said.

Peo­ple could check if they had a le­git­i­mate re­fund by con­tact­ing their tax agent, check­ing their myGov ac­count for any mes­sages, or call­ing the ATO di­rectly to ver­ify the mail on 1800 008 540.

Tele­phone scam­mers are us­ing of­fi­cial ATO num­bers and pro­ject­ing them on to their caller IDs to trick peo­ple.

“This im­per­son­ation method is called spoof­ing and is used in an ef­fort to le­git­imise their scam call. While we do make thou­sands of out­bound calls to the com­mu­nity ev­ery day, our calls do not project num­bers on caller ID,” the ATO spokes­woman said.

Sophos cy­ber­se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist David Sykes said peo­ple should al­ways think about scams when­ever they re­ceived an un­so­licited call or email.

“As­sume it’s a fake un­til they prove other­wise. It’s a bit sad, but un­for­tu­nately it’s the best de­fence,” he said.

Mr Sykes said the ATO would never ask for your tax file num­ber or bank de­tails via SMS or email, and peo­ple should be­ware of fake myGov no­ti­fi­ca­tions when on­line. “If you are un­sure about the le­git­i­macy of a myGov no­ti­fi­ca­tion you have re­ceived, go di­rectly to the myGov home­page and check your in­box for mes­sages. If the no­ti­fi­ca­tion in ques­tion is not there, con­tact the ATO im­me­di­ately,” he said. “Re­port a rort. By re­port­ing sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity, you’ll not only help your­self but other Aus­tralians. Phone the ATO on 1800 008 540.”

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