ATO

ATO warns taxpayers to be on high alert to scammers

The ATO is warning taxpayers to be on high alert to scammers, with over $800,000 reportedly lost during November.

Scam phone calls have increased in November, especially those using software that resembles a legitimate phone number to disguise the caller’s true identity, the ATO said on Wednesday.

Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said, “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.”

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 this year.

“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,” Ms Anderson said.

She clarified that 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, pre-paid 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.

“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.

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