In the last two months, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has reported that over 20,000 scams which have resulted in losses of approximately $5 million.
The number of innocent individuals being scammed is increasing due to sophisticated methods used by con artists who are pretending to be from the ATO. The scammers are successfully extracting money from professional people to aged persons.
Con artists call unsuspecting taxpayers to request payment of an unknown tax liability or even alerting them to unauthorised or suspicious activity on their account. These people can be threatening, sound professional, convincing and confident and some have a surprising knowledge of the tax system.
The con artists also send phishing scams which are fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information by sending emails or text messages which are designed to look genuine – some even have the ATO logo. Typical examples include sending emails or text messages stating that a tax refund is due. However, these messages contain malicious attachments or hyperlinks that are intended to steal personal information.
Don’t take the bait
Tips to protect yourself from scammers include the following:
- Know your tax affairs;
- Always protect and not disclose your personal and financial information unless you have a high degree of certainty of the person/organisation that you are dealing with;
- Report to the ATO suspicious calls, text messages or emails if the caller or sender claims to be from the ATO; and
- Understand the correct ways to make a payment to the ATO. Do not change your usual payment arrangements without agreement with the ATO or your Bank.
If you receive a suspicious call supposedly from the ATO, which you suspect is a scam, ask the caller for their full name and extension number, as well as their team leader’s details. Do not enter into a conversation with the scammer. You can call the ATO directly on 1800 008 540 to verify whether the caller was a genuine ATO employee.
If you receive an email or text message, firstly do not open the attachment or hyperlink. You should forward the message directly to the ATO (ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au) then delete the email or text. Alternatively, you can call the above ATO telephone number to report the scam.
Please note that the ATO will never call to demand an immediate payment of tax, threaten imprisonment or deportation. Therefore, be scam proof and report any fraudulent activity to the ATO as soon as possible.
How can Nexia Edwards Marshall help you?
If you are reluctant to contact the ATO, please do not hesitate to contact your Nexia Edwards Marshall NT Adviser – you will not be bothering us!