ATO warns taxpayers to be alert for new scams

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning taxpayers to be alert for scammers impersonating the ATO, as they change tactics in 2019.

The ATO warned that scammers have been developing new ways to get taxpayers’ money and personal information over the summer break.

“We are seeing the emergence of a new tactic, where scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund,” assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.

In 2018, the ATO received many reports of scammers maliciously manipulating the calling line identification so the phone number that appears is different to the number from which the call originated. This is known as “spoofing” and is a common technique used by scammers in an attempt to make their interactions with taxpayers appear legitimate, the Tax Office explained.

Ms Foat is warning the community to be aware that legitimate email domains and SMS origins can also be ‘spoofed’ by scammers.

“This scam is not just targeting your money, but is after your personal information in an attempt to steal your identity.

“Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message or email asking you to provide login, personal or financial information, especially if you weren’t expecting it,” she 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:

– 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;

– use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation;

– request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or

– request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

“If you are unsure about a call, text message or email that you have received, don’t reply,” the ATO advised.

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