Beware bitcoin tax scammers
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.