What is happening?
As tax season approaches, The Curtin Tax Clinic (CTC) advises taxpayers to beware of the rising use of bully tactics trying to scare Australians into handing over Tax File Numbers, banking details and other personal data to scammers. ATO Scam Alert reports that scammers are impersonating ATO employees and sending fake emails, text messages and leaving threatening voicemails to steal personal information. This may include:
- Instructing the taxpayer to login on to fake sites often called “ATO Office Portal” or “ATO Gateway Portal”.
- Text messages claiming the taxpayer is entitled to a tax refund and must enter personal details such as banking and credit card information to verify.
- Voice messages threating the taxpayer with legal action or arrest for an unknown tax debt or tax evasion.
It is important to note that:
- All tax affairs should be carried out via your MyGov account only.
- The ATO will never send an email with a hyperlink directing you to an external online service to provide personal information.
- The ATO will never send unsolicited text or voice messages asking for personal information, Tax File Numbers or asking for a fee to be paid.
CTC provides the following recommendations if you are contacted by anyone claiming they are from the ATO:
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the ATO, take down their information and call the ATO’s office (using ato.gov.au) to validate their identity and their request.
- Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over phone or email.
- If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a phone call, it’s OK to hang up and phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or report a scam.
- If you receive an email claiming to be from the ATO, DO NOT click on any links, open any attachments, or respond to the sender. These emails may harmful to your IT device and your information.
- If you think you have provided sensitive or personal information to a scammer, contact the ATO’s Identity Support Centre immediately on 1800 467 033.
Scammers worldwide are increasing their attempts to trick and defraud Australian taxpayers. As a result, it is important to be vigilant and aware of threats that may attempt to defraud or misuse your identity. The Australian Government has developed websites such as StaySmartOnline and ScamWatch to keep Citizens up to date with information on how to protect yourself online.
For further information about protecting yourself from scamming emails, see the ATO’s online guide to verify or report a scam; or CITS’s information security website for more articles on Security Advice.
If you receive a suspicious call or email, these should be reported to the ATO using the following methods:
- Phone on 1800 008 540 between 8:00am – 6:00pm AEST
- Forward the suspicious email to ReportEmailFraud@ATO.gov.au