Be­ware bit­coin tax scam­mers

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - News -

THE Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice (ATO) is warn­ing the pub­lic to be­ware of scam­mers im­per­son­at­ing the ATO and de­mand­ing Bit­coin or other cryp­tocur­rency as a form of pay­ment for fake tax debts.

Assistant Com­mis­sioner Kath An­der­son said that re­cent re­ports to the ATO had iden­ti­fied fraud­sters pi­o­neer­ing this new pay­ment method when de­fraud­ing tax­pay­ers in late 2017.

“We be­came aware of scam­mers seek­ing pay­ment in Bit­coin last year,” Ms An­der­son said.

“Cryp­tocur­rency op­er­ates in a vir­tual world, and once the scam­mers re­ceive pay­ment, it’s vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to get it back.

“Un­for­tu­nately it was in­evitable that scam­mers would tar­get cryp­tocur­rency, given its cur­rent pop­u­lar­ity and anonymity.”

While the ATO is con­cerned about scam­mers mov­ing to adopt cryp­tocur­ren­cies, tax­pay­ers should re­main vig­i­lant for other ver­sions of the fake tax debt scam.

Scams de­mand­ing di­rect de­posits into third-party bank ac­counts, de­mand­ing pay­ment via iTunes cards or with a pre-paid Visa gift cards re­main the most fre­quently re­ported to the ATO.

Five sim­ple ways to pro­tect your fam­ily and friends from iden­tity crimes:

• Know what to pro­tect: Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that could be used by scam­mers to im­per­son­ate some­one can in­clude their full name, date of birth, cur­rent ad­dress, bank ac­count numbers, credit card de­tails, tax file num­ber, drivers li­cence or pass­port de­tails, and any pass­words.

• Re­mind them to keep their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion safe and se­cure: If per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is stolen it can be very dif­fi­cult to get back. It’s best to store things like a tax file num­ber or birth cer­tifi­cate some­where safe and se­cure.

• Warn them if they share too much on so­cial me­dia: Scam­mers can use in­for­ma­tion pub­lished on so­cial net­work­ing sites to steal iden­ti­ties. If you see some­one shar­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on­line, re­mind them that they could be putting them­selves at risk of tar­geted at­tacks. It’s also a good idea to make sure pro­files are set to pri­vate, and to be cau­tious about which friend re­quests to ac­cept.

• Be sus­pi­cious of re­quests for per­sona; in­for­ma­tion: If you no-tice that your fam­ily and friends have re­ceived a re­quest for their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, tell them to treat the re­quest with cau­tion. To check if a call, email, SMS is from the ATO call them on 1800 008540 to con­firm.

• Know le­git­i­mate ways to make pay­ments: Scam­mers may use threat­en­ing tac­tics to trick their vic­tims into pay­ing false debts in pre-paid gift cards or by send­ing money to non-ATO bank ac­counts. To check that a pay­ment method is le­git­i­mate, the ATO have a list which can found on our web­site that out­lines meth­ods when deal­ing with them, visit ato.gov.au/ how­to­pay.

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