Be alert on scams

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page -

A phone scam re­ported by lo­cal res­i­dents last week high­lighted a re­cent warn­ing from the Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice for peo­ple to be on high alert for scams.

Fay Eade re­ceived one of the scam phone calls said the con was a recorded mes­sage that told res­i­dents their credit card had been used with­out au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

“I re­ceived a phone call from some­one telling me my credit card had been used and had $1000 spent on it on eBay and an­other $600 on an­other site I can’t re­call as I was in shock,” Ms Eade said.

“They said if I hadn’t au­tho­rised it to press one and if I had to press two, I then re­alised it was a scam.

“I posted it on Neigh­bour­hood Watch and a lot of Yar­ra­wonga peo­ple have re­ceived it.

“It would panic a lot of peo­ple es­pe­cially the el­derly. I know a lot of peo­ple would be caught with it.”

The ATO has been warn­ing peo­ple since early De­cem­ber to be on high alert to scam­mers, with over $800,000 re­port­edly lost dur­ing Novem­ber.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Kath An­der­son said dur­ing Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, the ATO saw an in­crease in scam phone calls, es­pe­cially those us­ing soft­ware that re­sem­bles a le­git­i­mate phone num­ber to dis­guise the caller’s true iden­tity.

“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,” Ms An­der­son said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms An­der­son, the ATO re­ceived more than 37,000 re­ports of scam at­tempts in Novem­ber alone, with one el­derly per­son los­ing more than $236,000 to scam­mers be­tween June and Novem­ber last year.

Ms An­der­son urged peo­ple to be aware of scam­mers pre­tend­ing to be from the ATO.

“Tax­pay­ers should be wary of any phone call, text mes­sage, email or let­ter about a tax re­fund or debt, es­pe­cially if you weren’t ex­pect­ing it,” she 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, pre­paid 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; or

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 that you have been con­tacted by a scam­mer, you should con­tact our call cen­tre. It’s OK to hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was le­git­i­mate or to re­port a scam,” Ms An­der­son said.

“While phone scams are the most com­mon at the mo­ment, scam­mers are con­stantly chang­ing tac­tics. Tax­pay­ers should still be­ware of un­so­licited emails and SMS, with more than 6,000 peo­ple hand­ing over their per­sonal or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion to scam­mers since July last year.

“Tax­pay­ers play an im­por­tant role in stop­ping scam­mer ac­tiv­ity by re­port­ing them to our scam line. Your re­ports help us to get an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of what is hap­pen­ing with the cur­rent scams, which ul­ti­mately helps pro­tect the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity,” Ms An­der­son said.

The ATO’s ded­i­cated scam re­port­ing line is 1800 008 540.

To see lat­est alerts and for more in­for­ma­tion, visit ato.gov.au/scams. Top tips to pro­tect your­self from scam­mers;

Know your tax af­fairs – you can log into myGov to check your tax af­fairs at any time, or you can con­tact your tax agent or the ATO;

Guard your per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion – be care­ful when click­ing on links, down­load­ing files or open­ing at­tach­ments. Only give your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to peo­ple you trust, and don’t share it on so­cial me­dia;

If you are un­sure about whether a call, text mes­sage or email is gen­uine, don’t re­ply. Call the ATO on 1800 008 540;

Know the le­git­i­mate ways to make pay­ments – scam­mers may use threat­en­ing tac­tics to trick their vic­tims into pay­ing false debts with pre-paid gift cards or by send­ing money to non-ATO bank ac­counts. To check whether a pay­ment method is le­git­i­mate, visit ato.gov. au/how­to­pay

Talk to your fam­ily and friends about scams – if you or some­one you know has fallen vic­tim to a tax re­lated scam, call the ATO as soon as pos­si­ble.

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