Woman’s ATO scam warning
AN ECHUCA woman is warning locals to be wary of scam phone calls after someone claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office left her a phone message threatening to issue a warrant for her arrest if she didn’t call them back immediately.
Although the call appeared to be from Australia, the strange 12-digit phone number quickly aroused the woman’s suspicions and she hung up the phone.
‘‘Now I just want to warn people not to take these phone calls seriously,’’ she said.
Scams like these are on the rise, with more than $800,000 stolen in the past month by people pretending to represent the ATO.
One elderly person lost more than $236,000 over just five months.
The thieves use software that resembles a legitimate phone number to disguise their identities, calling people and demanding payment for fake tax debts and threatening them with jail or deportation if they do not comply.
“The ATO does not project our numbers using caller ID. You can be confident that if there is a number displayed in your caller ID, it isn’t the ATO,” Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said.
Ms Anderson said while the ATO regularly contacts taxpayers by phone, email and SMS, there are some tell-tale signs that it isn’t the ATO.
The ATO will not: ■ Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation. ■ Request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn’t either 092-009 or 093-003. ■ Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you. ■ Send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.
If you suspect you have been contacted by a scammer, phone the ATO’s dedicated scam reporting line on 1800 008 540.
To see ATO’s latest alerts and for more information visit ato.gov.au/scams