ATO scammers pretending to be the tax office in an attempt to swindle money out of Australian taxpayers have apparently changed their strategies for this year.
In 2018, these scammers pretended to be the ATO and threatened taxpayers that they will prosecute if they didn’t make immediate payment for fake “tax debts”. They manipulated the calling identification so the call appeared to be from the Australian Taxation Office.
Last November alone, the fraudsters have stolen more than $800,000 from taxpayers.
The ATO has fought hard to alert the general public about this and had some success. So now, the modus operandi of these scammers has changed as more individuals become aware of this scam.
In a recent statement by ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat, she said, “We are seeing the emergence of a new tactic, where scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.”
So, just because the originating number of a phone call or SMS message is a real ATO number, it does not mean that the call or text is legitimate.
Ms Foat adds, “Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, or email asking you to provide login, personal, or financial information, especially if you weren’t expecting it.
“This scam is not just targeting your money, but is after your personal information in an attempt to steal your identity.”
The ATO has stated that it would never request the recipient to click on a link to enter any login, personal, or financial information. In addition, they would never request you to download a file or open an attachment. Further, the ATO staff would never use aggressive or disrespectful behaviour, nor threaten you with arrest, jail time, or deportation.
Please be advised that the ATO would likewise never demand payment via Google Play or iTunes vouchers, cryptocurrency, prepaid Visa cards, or direct credit to a personal bank account. And it would never request for a fee to “release” a tax refund.
Individuals who experience these types of scams should notify the ATO at 1800 008 540 immediately. You can also contact your Chan & Naylor Client Manager and we will be glad to assist.
For more tips on how to avoid being scammed or breached, read our article, “Human error a major reason for hacks and breaches“.
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