Stop, scam­mer time!

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Tax Time -

Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice is re­mind­ing Aus­tralians to stop and think be­fore giv­ing per­sonal details or hard-earned money to scam­mers dur­ing tax time.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Kath An­der­son said peo­ple re­ported 48,084 scams to the ATO be­tween July and Oc­to­ber last year.

“We have al­ready seen a five-fold in­crease in scams from Jan­uary to May this year and typ­i­cally ex­pect fur­ther in­creases dur­ing the tax time pe­riod,” she said.

“Al­ready this year, the ATO has reg­is­tered more than 17,067 scam re­ports.

“Of these, 113 Aus­tralians handed over $1.5-mil­lion to fraud­sters with about 2500 peo­ple pro­vid­ing some form of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing tax-file num­bers.

“One vic­tim lost $900,000 to scam­mers over the course of sev­eral months, even bor­row­ing money from fam­ily and friends.

“The large num­ber of peo­ple lodg­ing their tax re­turns means scam­mers are par­tic­u­larly ac­tive, so it’s im­por­tant to keep an eye out for any­thing that looks suspicious and pro­tect your pri­vate in­for­ma­tion.”

Ms An­der­son said Aus­tralians were gen­er­ally good at catch­ing and re­port­ing scams, but some scams were harder to spot than oth­ers.

“Scam­mers lo­cate gen­uine ATO num­bers from our web­site and project these num­bers in their caller ID in an at­tempt to le­git­imise their call – a form of im­per­son­ation known as ‘spoof­ing’,” she said.

“While we do make thou­sands of calls a week to the com­mu­nity, our out­bound calls do not project num­bers on caller ID. If one ap­pears, it’s most likely a scam.

“Peo­ple should be wary of emails, phone calls and SMS mes­sages dur­ing tax time that claim to be from the ATO, even if it seems le­git­i­mate.

“If you’re ever un­sure about whether a call, text mes­sage or email is gen­uine, call us on 1800 008 540.

“If it’s real, we will connect you with the right area of the ATO.”

Ms An­der­son said if peo­ple be­lieved they or some­one they knew had fallen vic­tim to a tax-re­lated scam they should call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to make a re­port.

For more in­for­ma­tion on how to ver­ify or re­port a scam, visit scams or for up­dates on the lat­est scams, vis­itscamwatc­h.

Tips to avoid tax time traps

• Be aware of what you share. You should only share your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion with peo­ple you trust and or­gan­i­sa­tions with a le­git­i­mate need for it. • Stay se­cure. Keep your mo­bile de­vices and computers se­cure by chang­ing your pass­words reg­u­larly, keep your anti-virus, mal­ware, and spy­ware pro­tec­tion soft­ware up-to-date and do not click on suspicious links. • Do not re­ply. Do not re­ply to any SMS or email with your per­sonal or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion. • Recog­nise a scam. If some­one asks you for your bank ac­count or per­sonal details, or de­mands money, re­funds or free gifts, be cau­tious. Also avoid re­quests in emails or SMS re­quest­ing you to click on a link to log onto gov­ern­ment or bank­ing dig­i­tal ser­vices. • Re­port scams. If you think you or some­one you know might have been con­tacted by a scam­mer, or have fallen vic­tim to a tax-re­lated scam, call the ATO on 1800 008 540.

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