‘Hang up’: ATO warns against new phone scam targeting innocent Aussies

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The tax authority says scammers are using ATO phone numbers to trick taxpayers into paying supposed tax debt.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) are warning the public to be wary of a new phone scam doing the rounds, urging people to “hang up” if they receive one of the dodgy calls.

The tax authority says scammers are using ATO phone numbers to initiate calls to taxpayers and then demand payment for a supposed tax debt or face being arrested.

The ATO released an alert on Wednesday saying the scammers had the technology to send calls that appear to be from a legitimate ATO phone number. “We are now seeing an evolution of this tactic where the scammers are using technology to make it look like the calls originate from a legitimate ATO phone number.”

The tax authority also warned social media users to beware of the scam, with a message on its Facebook page telling people to “hang up” if they’re unsure. “Listen out for suspicious calls claiming to be from the ATO. Today scammers have started ‘spoofing’ our phone number so it looks like we’re calling. They’re also leaving our number on voicemails to make their contact seem real.”

ATO says it’s important to remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO, will never: threaten you with arrest, demand immediate payment or refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor.

“Never call a scammer back on the number they provide. If in doubt, independently locate a contact number for the organisation referenced in the call or email,” they warned. “If you are in any doubt about an ATO call hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or report a scam.”

The dodgy call isn’t the only ATO scam currently making the rounds. Crafty scammers claiming to be from the ATO are sending fake emails asking for taxpayer’s banking credentials.

The tax authority says the email scam is disguised as a Tax Refund Notification and aims to trick taxpayers into handing over their bank details by clicking a dodgy link. The ATO is advising clients to not click on the link in the email nor save the attachment as it may “download malicious malware onto your computer”.

Are you confident you’d be able to identify a scam phone call to your mobile? Have you been caught out in scam?

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