Tax-related scams and identity theft targeting Australians are on the increase. Find out how to reduce your risk.
There has been a significant increase in tax-related scams, fraud attempts, deceptive emails and SMS schemes targeting Australians.
The tax office warned the ‘robocalls’ were stemming from overseas scamming groups, coming through as pre-recorded messages which demand immediate payment of tax debt, threatening arrest if it’s not paid. In a further complication, the calls are now being manipulated to appear to come from a legitimate ATO number.
Taxpayers should be wary of any unexpected phone call, text message or email claiming to be from the tax office. While ATO may contact you in these ways, if it does not seem right, independently find ATO phone number and check if the contact was legitimate.
Thieves only need some basic details such as name, date of birth, address, myGov details or Tax File Number (TFN) to commit identity crime.
If criminals steal your identity, it can take a long time to fix. It may be difficult for you to get a job, a loan, rent a house, or apply for government services or benefits.
If you are unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, do not reply. If you receive an SMS or email claiming to be from the ATO, check with the ATO first to confirm it is genuine.
To protect against scams and identity theft, the ATO encourages individuals to:
- Run the latest software updates to ensure operating systems security is current.
- Update antivirus software.
- Always exercise caution when clicking on links and providing personal identifying information.
- Never share personal information on social media, such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details.
- Avoid accessing online government services via a hyperlink in an email or SMS – only via an independent search.
- Always access the ATO’s online services directly via ato.gov.au or my.gov.au or the ATO app.
- Call the ATO on an independently sourced number to verify an interaction if in doubt.
- Do not click on a link, open an attachment or download a file if in doubt.
Ensure your digital identity, such as your myGovID, is secure. Your digital identity is unique to you and should not be shared, as this will enable others access to your personal data across services such as tax and health.
With Tax time fast approaching, the number of Tax related scams including telephone calls, emails, text and via social media, is expected to increase.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the ATO, there are some things to look for that may indicate it’s a scam:
- Contact is abusive or threatening.
- Pre-recorded messages.
- Demanding immediate payment.
- Contact via social media, email or text.
- Too good to be true.
If you suspect your TFN or ABN has been stolen, misused, or compromised, phone the ATO’s Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033 between 8.00am and 6.00pm Monday – Friday. They can investigate and place additional protective measures on your account.
If you think someone accessed your myGov account, including your linked ATO services, without your permission, phone the ATO on 13 28 61, between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
If you think someone has inappropriately accessed your personal information in myGovID, report this immediately – phone the ATO on 1300 287 539 (select option 2) between 8.00am and 6.00pm AEST, Monday to Friday.
To report or verify suspected ATO SCAMS visit the ATO website – Verify or report a scam | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)