Personal Income Tax

Scams and Fraud: Stay Alert and Beat the Scammers


That initiative includes a strong online presence being used by the ATO to educate taxpayers and businesses on how to protect their identity, protect information and be alert to scams in general. One of those is the ATO’s Be Aware of What You Share video which went viral with over 800000 views.


To assist in understanding the origins, modus operandi and latest scam trends the ATO has created a ‘Verify or report a scam’ webpage, which has proved very popular with the public. In addition to its targeted web pages, the ATO has driven its social media to mimic the rhetoric of protection; here it also advises people what to do if they believe they have fallen into a scam.


Despite these efforts, many Australians are still falling for the often‑sophisticated and convincing scams and the ATO admits in it’s latest guidance that they are getting harder to spot.

How Scams Work

One of the most popular methods of scamming people is the practice whereby scammers pretend to be from the ATO. The scammers source legitimate information and phone number from the ATO website and project it on their caller ID so they appear genuine to those receiving the calls. Referred to as ‘spoofing,’ this practice is on the increase, but it should actually be seen as a red flag because while the ATO does make thousands of calls per week, none of them will display a number.


Scammers also use SMS or emails purporting to be the ATO and requesting personal information. People should be very cautious of these communications and call the ATO on 1800 008 540 if they are in any doubt as to the legitimacy of the call or SMS. If the communication is legitimate you will be passed to the right ATO department.


Financial Institutions and Retailers are also engaged in combating scammers, with many incorporating warning notices to their customers. Payment methods for these scams are usually by direct transfer into fake ATO accounts or by iTunes vouchers, as this is what the scammers usually request. These methods are quite common and these businesses are attempting to reduce instances of their occurrence.

Top Tips for Avoiding Tax Scams

  1. Don’t ever reply to suspicious communication. Any unsolicited or unexpected phone calls, SMS or emails should be ignored or reported to the organisation it claims to be from. If it is the ATO, then call them on 1800 008 540.


  1. Recognise Scams. Any communication which asks you to ‘click on links’, ‘login to your account’ or ‘change your password’ should be treated with extreme caution. Furthermore, if anyone asks you for any bank details, passwords, or personal details be very cautious. Never accept any offer of ‘free gifts or refunds’.


  1. Don’t click on any suspicious links and make sure you keep your Computers, Laptops and Smartphones up to date with the latest anti-virus and spyware software. Keep passwords secure and change them regularly.


  1. Keep Information Secure. Don’t ever share personal details with anyone other than people you know and trust, or organizations which legitimately need it.


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