During tax time we see a rise in the number of ATO scams where individuals pose as the Australian Tax Office and often use scare tactics to scam people out of their hard-earned money.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the types of scams designed to trick you into paying money or giving out your personal information and what to do if you are scammed or want to report a scammer.
Scammers are becoming more and more convincing making it difficult to differentiate between interactions with the ATO and the scammers. There are some tell-tale-signs we will be running through to help you verify that you are in fact dealing with the ATO.
Here are different way scammers may call you and try and trick you into making a payment or give them your personal details:
- You receive a call where they threaten you with immediate arrest to instil fear in you and create a sense of urgency
- The ATO will never threaten you with immediate arrest
- You may receive unsolicited pre-recorded messages or robocalls. The message will ask you to return the call. Doing so now gives the scammer the upper hand because if you return the call, they know you believed the message and are therefore more vulnerable to be scammed
- The ATO will never send you pre-recorded messages
- Only ever call the ATO on the number you independently source for example via their website – never the number in your call log
- Scammers use technology to project legitimate numbers on caller ID on your call log. They do this so it looks like the call comes from an Australian number
- Calls from the ATO never show a number on caller ID.
- If you want to call the ATO only do so on a number you independently source, not a number from your call log
- When they do speak to you, they may demand you pay them immediately. They may also tell you if you hang up, a warrant for your arrest will be triggered
- The ATO will never insist you stay on the line until payment is made let alone threaten arrest
- They may refuse to let you talk to a trusted advisor or your tax agent
- The ATO will never prevent you from discussing your tax affairs with your agent or trusted advisor, in fact, they’ll encourage it
- They may conference call in a fake tax professional, law enforcement officer or another official. This additional person will be another scammer
- The ATO will never conference call in a 3rd party
- They may request payment by iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers, by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, offshore wire transfer or by paying money into a personal bank account
- The ATO never request payment via the above methods
- For legitimate ways to pay your tax debt, see How to pay
- The scammer may say you’re eligible for a refund and request you pay a fee to receive the refund usually by credit card. They then steal your credit card info
- The ATO will never ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a refund.
- If you can’t pay the full amount the scammer may offer payment arrangements
- Contact the ATO or your tax agent via an independently sourced number before entering into any payment arrangement over the phone
Call the ATO to report if you or someone you know has paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer on 1800 008 540.
If you have or do receive a scam phone call or text message, and you’ve identified them as scammers immediately, you can report the scam via this online form: Report a scam