As a result, over $800,000 has reportedly been lost to scammers over the month of November alone.
According to assistant commissioner Kath Anderson, victims are being targeted by scammers using software that makes their phone numbers appear legitimate in order to hide their identity.
“The ATO does not project our numbers using caller ID. You can be confident that if there is a number displayed in your caller ID, it isn’t the ATO,” she said.
“Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if you weren’t expecting it.”
She said a few tell-tale signs that a caller may not be legitimate include if they are rude, aggressive or threatening; if they request payment of debt via iTunes, prepaid visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn’t either 092-009 or 093-003; if they request payment to release an owed refund; or if they send an email or SMS asking you to click on a link provided to login, offer your personal or financial information, or download a file or attachment.
She said Australians who suspect they may have been contacted by a scammer posing as an ATO representative should call the ATO call centre on 1800 008 540.
“While phone scams are the most common at the moment, scammers are constantly changing tactics. Taxpayers should still beware of unsolicited emails and SMS, with more than 6,000 people handing over their personal or financial information to scammers since July this year,” she said.
“Taxpayers play an important role in stopping scammer activity by reporting them to our scam line. Your reports help us to get an accurate picture of what is happening with the current scams, which ultimately helps protect the Australian community.”
The ATO offers the following helpful tips for consumers to protect themselves from scammers:
- Know your tax affairs – log into myGov to check your tax affairs, or contact your tax agent or the ATO.
- Protect your personal and financial information – be wary when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments. Only give your personal information to people you trust, and don’t share it on social media.
- If you are unsure about whether a call, text message or email is genuine, don’t respond. Call the ATO on 1800 008 540.
- Know the legitimate ways to make payments – scammers may be threatening to push victims into paying false debts with prepaid gift cards or by sending money to non-ATO bank accounts. To check whether a payment method is legitimate, visit gov.au/howtopay
- Talk to your family and friends about scams – if you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax related scam, call the ATO as soon as possible.