I’m sure that most of you are aware that tax time is around the corner. But did you know that this is also a very popular time for ATO Scammers?
Recently, it was National Scam Awareness Week. It came at a very convenient time reminding us to be aware and careful of threat-based impersonation scams as we approach tax time.
So, not only will you have to worry about putting your statements together this year, but you also need to be wary of any hoaxes and fraudulent activity.
The next time you pick up the phone or receive an email, take a moment and ask yourself, “Is this for real?” Don’t become the bait on the end of a cunning Scammer’s fishing line.
Here’s what to look out for.
Always, Listen To Your Gut!
If something feels fishy, it probably is.
If you receive an unsolicited call from someone who:
- Is pushy or aggressive
- Threatens you for non-payment of an unknown outstanding debt
- Asks for your TFN
- Is seeking immediate payment
- Asks for you to confirm personal information or
- Is too good to be true
- Calls outside of business hours…
…You can bet your bottom dollar it’s not from the ATO.
Instead, it’s likely a scammer and your internal alarm bells should be ringing on high alert!
If you were ever in big trouble with the ATO, we would know about it and WE would be the ones calling you – not the ATO, and not a third party.
Also keep in mind that the ATO will not use email, text messages or social media to ask you:
- To update or provide personal information, supply your TFN, credit card or bank details
- To send you downloadable files or tell you to install software.
How To Keep Your Information Safe
Once scammers or malicious people have your personal identifiable information, they may use it to commit identity fraud or other crimes such as accessing your bank accounts, taking out loans in your name, lodging false tax returns or BAS statements, claiming Centrelink or other government benefits, accessing your client or employee records or gaining access to your superannuation.
To keep personal information safe, we recommend the following:
- Ensure that your passwords are strong and secure
- Remove system access from people who no longer need it
- Ensure all devices have the latest security updates
- Familiarise yourself with previous and current ATO related scams
Click here to the latest scams as listed on the ATO website. Alternatively, click on the individual links below for this year’s latest scams:
- March 2018 Phone scam – voicemail
- March 2018 Email scam – tax refund review
- February 2018 Email scam – tax refund notification
- January 2018 Phone scam – fake tax refund
- January 2018 Email scam – tax form
Below are some examples of common methods used by Scammers:
- Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone numbers to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world or using fake numbers to make phone calls and text messages appear to come from Australia
- Pre-recorded voice messages (robocalls) to large numbers of people asking for an immediate call back
- Copycat emails with attachments or links that
- take you to fake login screens or web pages to trick you to downloading malicious software or giving them your personal information
- contain programs that record your computer key strokes to get your personal information or login credentials
- Sending ransomware (malicious software) that stops your computer working until you pay a fee – often by Bitcoin
- Fake websites or login pages to get your personal information
- Accessing your public profile on social media to learn about you so they can meet proof of record ownership or break your passwords.
Verifying and Reporting an ATO Impersonation Scam
- Are unsure about a particular interaction you have had with a person claiming to be from the ATO, or you think you have fallen victim to an ATO Impersonation scam, give us a call on (03) 9762 7344 and we can help you.
Alternatively, you can also call the ATO on 1800 008 540 between 8:00am–6:00pm Monday to Friday.
- Think you have been scammed or have accidentally provided your tax file number (TFN) to someone who shouldn’t have it, or you suspect someone is misusing your TFN, you can call the ATO’s Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033. They will be able to give you advice on the best way to protect your tax account.
- Have made a payment to an ATO impersonation scammer, you can also make an official report to your local police.
- Receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the ATO:
- do not click on any links, open attachments or respond
- forward the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au
- delete any record of the scam email from your account.
Help to Increase Awareness: #ScamsWeek #IsThisForReal
To increase awareness the ATO are asking individuals and businesses to share their scam stories on social media – accompanied by the above hashtags. If you would like to speak to us about this topic further, or have any other questions, feel free to contact us here.