BEWARE of Scammers Impersonating ATO

 BEWARE of Scammers Impersonating ATO

Since the start of the year, there has been an average of 10 daily reports regarding ATO fraud. This follows a hiatus after the 2018 ATO scam, that scam witnessed thousands of calls that used a three-way conversation between scammers, victims and other scammers impersonating tax agents. One elderly victim lost $236,000.

ATO fraud has been a problem across all territories over the last decade. Recently, the new modus operandi of the scammers follow this same pattern, i.e.

  • A targeted victim will get an automated call or SMS claiming to be the ATO.
  • They will be told their Tax File Number (TFN) has been compromised and to move money to a safe account.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications released a script of two common messages of the scammers, which state:

“Your TFN has been suspended as scammers have your TFN details. You need to transfer all your money to us in order to protect it while we sort it out”.

“Your TFN has been used illegally and you need to move all the money in your bank account to a holding account pending the outcome of legal action”.

Be warned that if you receive a message like these or any similar ones, please follow our advice below.

Fortunately, while the number of Australian victims has been relatively low this year, they are yielding sizable results. In one case, they took almost $50,000. The message appears to be that people are still falling for the con that has been perpetrated on Australians for several years now.

Things to Remember:

  • The ATO never contacts people using automated recordings or SMS.
  • The ATO does not suspend Tax File Numbers.
  • The ATO never request a fund transfer over the phone.
  • ATO never threatens people.

If you receive a call out of the blue from the scammers, we suggest you follow these simple tips:

  • Hang up.
  • Log into your MyGov account and see if you have any official notification.
  • If unregistered, think about registering for this service.
  • If in doubt, call the dedicated ATO Fraud Helpline on freephone 1800 008 540.
  • Forward emails and or notify the details to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au
  • Keep up to date on the latest scams on www.ato.gov.au/scams
  • Talk to someone you trust if you are unsure.
  • DO NOT transfer monies to any account after receiving unsolicited contact from a source purporting to be the ATO.
  • DO NOT give any personal login details, passwords, or credit/ debit card details.

The scammer’s messages are always evolving but broadly follow the same narrative; they use threats of prosecution and or arrest. Ask yourself, ‘would the ATO resort to this?’ The answer is no. If unsure, hang up and call them back. They will be only too happy to clarify matters for you.

Arpita Pawan

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