The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding Australians to be on the lookout for tax-related scams ahead of November 21, when around one million Aussie taxpayers will need to make payment to the tax authority or face interest charges on their debt.
November is prime scam time for the ATO as scammers get craftier in their efforts to fool taxpayers into handing over their cash. Millions of Australians end the financial year in debt to the tax office and have to repay the sum by November 21, or set up a payment plan with the department.
However, the ATO says it doesn’t matter if you don’t owe the department money, as scammers run sophisticated fear-mongering campaigns that fool people into handing over their cash every year.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said scammers are experts at exploiting vulnerable people and often impersonate tax agents and use aggressive tactics to swindle people out of their money or personal information.
“Our advice is simple – the ATO will never ask you to make a payment into an ATM or via gift or pre-paid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards, or direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account,” she said.
“If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call us on 1800 888 540.”
Australians have reported more than 28,000 scam attempts to the ATO, since July 1, and paid almost $1,000,000 to scammers. The tax authority said payments through Bitcoin ATMs have now overtaken iTunes vouchers as the most common method of scam payment reported to the ATO.
Since July 1, the ATO has seen almost 6,000 taxpayers give away their personal or financial information to scammers through things like phishing scams.
“Your identifying information like tax file numbers, bank account numbers or your date of birth are the keys to your identity, and can be used by scammers to break into your life if they are compromised.”
Anderson said if you’ve received an unsolicited email or text to get in contact with the ATO immediately.
Earlier this year, the ATO released a list of the top phone numbers scammers asked people to call them back on. If someone asks you to call them on one of these numbers, report them to ScamWatch.
“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,” the department 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.”
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