Tax fraud is on the rise
With tax time upon us, the threat of tax scams is higher than ever. This is the ideal time for scammers to strike as most people make contact or are expecting communication from the ATO throughout this period, making them highly vulnerable to this kind of fraud.
Recently we have received multiple reports regarding a pre-recorded voice message being used to contact clients directly. Be on the lookout for any phone call you receive relaying a message which states the caller is from the ATO claiming you have an amount owing to the tax office, and if the debt remains unpaid, your bank accounts, passport and other belongings will be frozen. Clients have also been threatened with alleged arrest, followed by disclosure of a nominated phone number to call back to organise payment to the ATO.
There are two forms of contact these fraudsters tend to use when attempting to conduct a scam, the aforementioned phone call, or an email which typically requests for you to open a link or attachment. Be wary when receiving such an email as upon opening this will infect your device with a virus. Another email from scammers making the rounds claim you are owed money by the government but to collect it, you must first pay a small fee.
It is beneficial to remember that the ATO will never:
- Threaten you with immediate arrest.
- Ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment from the ATO.
- Ask you to pay a debt via iTunes vouchers, or pre-paid credit card or store gift cards.
- Ask you to provide personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN) or credit card number, via email or SMS.
- Ask you to pay money into a personal bank account.
- Direct you to download files from the internet, or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
Legitimate ATO email correspondence will come from an email address ending with @ato.gov.au, if the email address differs from this please, remember to avoid. As we are your registered tax agent the ATO should contact us first as we represent you, however in some cases they will contact you directly.
If you are in doubt about the authenticity of a call that you receive claiming to be from the ATO, you can call 1800 008 540 to verify.