Warning Signs of a Tax Scam: Protect Yourself from Fraudsters

Fraudsters are constantly finding new ways to trick people into giving them their money. Unfortunately, even trusted organizations like the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are not immune from impersonation by scammers. In this blog, we will discuss some of the warning signs of a tax scam and provide tips on how to protect yourself from these fraudulent activities.

Social Media Scams: Beware of Fake Accounts

Scammers are now using social media as a tool to trick taxpayers into giving them their personal information. They create fake social media accounts impersonating employees, senior staff, and even the ATO itself. These fake accounts ask users to send them a direct message so they can help with their enquiry. The scammers behind these accounts are trying to steal your personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses, and bank account information.

To verify that it's really the ATO, you should:

● Check how many people follow the account. The ATO’s verified Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have over 200,000 followers, and their Twitter account has over 65,000 followers. ● Check activity on the accounts. The ATO’s official social media channels have been operating for around 10 years. If it's a newly created account or only has a few posts, it's not the ATO. ● Look for the grey tick next to the username (@ato_gov_au) on Twitter and the blue tick next to their name (Australian Taxation Office) on Facebook. ● Make sure any email addresses provided to you end with ‘.gov.au’.

How to Identify a Scam: Common Features

As the end of the financial year approaches, it's essential to be vigilant of potential tax scams lurking around you. Below are some of the common features of a scam, depending on the type.

Phone Scams:

● Scammers may use technology to show real ATO or Australian phone numbers in the caller ID or call log. TRUTH: When the ATO actually calls you, the number shows as No Caller ID. ● Scammers may tell you that your tax file number (TFN) has been cancelled or suspended due to money laundering or other criminal activity. TRUTH: TFNs are not cancelled by the ATO. ● Scammers may refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted adviser or your regular tax agent. TRUTH: The ATO will never prevent you from speaking with your trusted adviser/agent. ● Scammers may request payment being made through retail gift cards, vouchers, cardless cash ATM withdrawals, cryptocurrency, offshore wire, or even by paying money into a personal bank account. TRUTH: The ATO does not accept payment through vouchers, retail gift cards, cardless cash ATM withdrawals, cryptocurrency, or offshore wire transfers. The ATO will only ask for tax debt to be paid into a bank account held by the Reserve Bank of Australia. ● Scammers may request that you pay a fee to receive a tax refund. They will usually ask you to pay the fee using your credit card and then steal your credit card details. TRUTH: The ATO will never ask you to pay a fee to receive your refund.

Email/SMS Scams:

● Scammers may ask you to provide your personal identifying and financial institution details through a return SMS or email to receive a refund. TRUTH: The ATO may use SMS or email to ask you to contact them, but they will never send an unsolicited message asking you to return personal identifying information through these channels. ● Scammers may request that you click on a link in an SMS or email to log on to an online service, creating a fake log on page that captures your credentials. TRUTH: The ATO never sends an email or phones for details, if you never called in the first place for something you needed assistance with, if you need to know where your Document identification number is, please have your Notice of assessment ready before calling the ATO. or call us on 0488854200 or just text us.

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