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Don’t get scammed by the “ATO” - Tina Zawila


Just last week the ATO issued another warning to taxpayers to be alert for scammers impersonating the ATO. “We are seeing the emergence of a new tactic, where scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund,” ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said.

We often receive phone calls from clients who have been contacted by someone purporting to be the ATO requesting information or money. Fortunately, our clients seem to be savvy enough not to provide any information to the callers and instead call us. After all, we are their intermediary with the ATO. However, I’m sure a large part of the community could potentially be caught out by these scammers, particularly as the tactics used become more sophisticated and less easy to identify as fraudulent.


The ATO said that there are some tell-tale signs that a contact is a scam, including:


- they send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, to download a file or open an attachment

- they use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation

- they request payment of a debt via iTunes, Google Play or pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account,

- they request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.


If you haven’t received a scammer’s phone call, a dodgy email or fake SMS, it probably won’t be long until you do. The ATO also released data on scams in December 2018. Some of its findings include:


- more than 25,000 phone scam reports were recorded by the ATO in December,

- more than 1,500 phishing scam emails were reported to the ATO,

- more than $500,000 was reported to the ATO as being paid to scammers in December, well down from November.


These are scary statistics particularly, the half a million dollars that was reported as being paid to scammers in one month alone!


Make sure you are not caught out. If in doubt, do not provide any information to a caller, click on a link or reply to an SMS. Contact your tax agent, or the ATO via telephone or your myGov account. It is always better to be safe than sorry.


If you need professional tax advice or assistance please contact us at UHY Haines Norton Gladstone on 49721300.

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