It is estimated by the Australian Crime Commission that $1 billion is lost each year. A significant amount of this occurs every tax time as it is an opportunity for scammers to target the unwary.
Scams cost you money
Scams are designed to trick you into providing either money or personal information.
To catch people off guard, scammers use:
- phone calls
- text messages
- bogus websites
- job advertisements.
Scammers can be very believable and sometimes quote your personal information such as your address, phone number and date of birth to sound authentic.
Once they have your information they can commit fraud or other illegal activities in your name. They can:
- access your bank accounts
- take out loans in your name
- lodge false tax returns
- claim Centrelink or other benefits.
These activities can have serious consequences for you, both financially and psychologically.
Recently as an example, the scammers are phoning and claiming to be from the prosecutions department of the ATO. They then state that they believe you have committed fraud and the Sheriff’s Office has been called. You can of course make this all go away by transferring cash using the details they provide or by giving your details to them. All of it is fake.
There are a number of variations to this fake arrest warrant scam. In some cases a message is left on an answering machine obliging the person to call back.
Understandably for those with outstanding tax debt, these calls can cause concern.
If you receive a call like this, you should feel free to hang up. We can contact the ATO on your behalf to verify if there are any known issues.
Or, if you would like to report the scammers, take as many details as possible without giving any information away (phone numbers, supposed section of the ATO, name of the person calling, etc.,) and pass them onto us. Once again we’ll verify with the ATO and report any known details about the scam for further investigation.
If you are contacted by email by the ATO or a group purporting to represent the ATO, you can forward these emails directly to the ATO at ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.