Wise up to tax scams
Scammers have targeted taxpayers, so you need to stay alert to their tricks, writes
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.
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.”