Scamwatch, a department of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), have issued a warning to students about a tax scam targeting people in Australia. They have warned people not to engage with phone calls or emails they receive threatening arrest or jail over unpaid tax debts.
Most of these scams occur over the phone. People receive a call from an aggressive scammer directly or receive a robotic-sounding voice message informing them that 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 Taxation Office (ATO) or the police to scare people into believing the contact is real. The scammer will then tell people to buy gift cards like iTunes or Google Play to ‘pay’ the tax debt or a fine. The scammer 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 people 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 the email you receive.
If you are concerned the contact may be legitimate, you can also call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check its authenticity. You can also report the scam at Scamwatch here.
Further details about the scam can be found here.