The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding Australians to stop and think before giving their personal details or hard-earned money to scammers this tax time.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said 48,084 scams were reported to the ATO between July and October in 2016.
“We have already seen a five-fold increase in scams from January to May in 2017 and typically expect further increases during the tax time period,” Ms Anderson said.
“Already in 2017, the ATO has registered over 17,067 scam reports. Of these, 113 Australians handed over $1.5 million to fraudsters with about 2,500 providing some form of personal information, including tax file numbers.
“One victim lost $900,000 to scammers over the course of several months, even borrowing money from family and friends.
“The large number of people lodging their tax returns means scammers are particularly active, so it’s important to keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious and protect your private information.”
Ms Anderson said Australians are generally good at catching and reporting scams, but some scams are harder to spot than others.
“Scammers locate genuine ATO numbers from our website and project these numbers in their caller ID in an attempt to legitimise their call – a form of impersonation known as “spoofing”. While we do make thousands of calls per week to the community, our outbound calls do not project numbers on caller ID. If one appears, it’s most likely a scam.
“People should be wary of emails, phone calls and SMS during tax time that claim to be from the ATO, even if it seems legitimate. If you’re ever unsure about whether a call, text message or email is genuine, call us on 1800 008 540. If it’s real, we will connect you with the right area of the ATO.”
If you think you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax related scam, call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to make a report.
For more information on how to verify or report a scam, visit ato.gov.au/scams or for updates on the latest scams, visit ScamwatchExternal Link.
Top tips to avoid tax time traps
- Be aware of what you share
You should only share your personal information with people you trust and organisations with a legitimate need for it.
- Stay secure
Keep your mobile devices and computers secure by changing your passwords regularly, keep your anti-virus, malware, and spyware protection software up-to-date and don’t click on suspicious links.
- Don’t reply
Don’t reply to any SMS or email with your personal or financial information.
- Recognise a scam
If someone asks you for your bank account or personal details, or demands money, refunds or free gifts, be cautious. Also avoid requests in emails or SMS requesting you to click on a link to log onto government or banking digital services.
- Report scams
If you think you or someone you know might have been contacted by a scammer, or have fallen victim to a tax-related scam, contact the ATO on 1800 008 540.