Tax scams seem to be everywhere at the moment and Scamwatch is warning people not to engage with phone calls or emails they receive threatening arrest or jail over unpaid tax debts.
Reports of these scams have jumped significantly during the past month. The scam is timed to coincide with the cut-off date for people needing to have their tax returns submitted to the Australian Tax Office.
Most of these scams occur over the phone. People get a call from an aggressive scammer directly or receive a robotic-sounding voice message informing them they need to contact a phone number in relation to an outstanding tax debt, or face imminent arrest and jail time.
The scammer pretends to be from the Australian Tax Office or the police to scare people into believing the contact is real. They will tell people to buy gift cards like iTunes or Google Play to ‘pay’ the tax debt or a fine. They may also get people to send money by other methods like Bitcoin ATMs or pre-paid credit cards.
This is a scam. The tax office will never threaten you with arrest, or demand immediate payment of a tax debt or fine with unusual payment methods like gift cards or Bitcoin.
If you ever get a call or email claiming you will be arrested due to a tax debt, simply hang up the phone or delete the email. Do not call the number provided in the phone message or email you receive.
If you’re concerned the contact may be legitimate, you can also call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check its veracity.