A new SMS scam is doing the rounds, promising an 8 per cent bonus on tax returns to the victims of recent natural disasters. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has raised the alarm about the scam, with assistant commissioner Karen Foat calling the messages a “classic case” of fraudsters impersonating the ATO.
She said they do this in an effort to collect personal information from people, including names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and online banking login details. Included in the SMS scam is a link to a fake myGov website that looks genuine.
“If you receive an SMS, call, or email and aren’t sure if it’s genuine, it’s OK to not respond,” Ms Foat advised.
“Instead, you can phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line – 1800 008 540 – to check if it is legitimate.”
Scams can also be reported online at https://www.ato.gov.au/reportascam.
While the Tax Office does send SMS and emails, and also makes phone calls to taxpayers, it has said there are some tell-tale signs associated with scams that can aid in identifying fraudulent contact.
The ATO said it will never:
- Send an SMS or email requesting you click on a hyperlink to log on to government services;
- Ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund;
- Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation;
- Project its number onto your caller ID – so people can be sure that if there’s a number on their caller ID, it’s not the ATO calling; or
- Request payment of a debt via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency, or direct credit to a personal bank account.
Importantly, don’t give up any personal information.
Ms Foat flagged that last year alone, more than 15,000 people reported to the Tax Office that they had provided scammers with personal identifying information.
“Your personal and financial information is like the keys to your identity and your money,” she outlined.
“Once a scammer has your data, they will either sell it on the black market or use it to impersonate you.”
She explained how when armed with your details, scammers can do things like get a loan or commit fraud in your name, access your bank account and shop using your credit card, lodge tax returns, or steal your superannuation.
“If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax related scam, the best thing to do is call the ATO as soon as you can on 1800 008 540,” the assistant commissioner concluded.
If you have any questions about the information above please contact the team at Abbotts, we will be happy to assist you. You can find details to get in touch with us on our contact us page.
This article was first published by Grace Ormsby on nestegg (14 February 2020)