Stop, scammer 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 ato.gov.au/ 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.