It’s that time of year again – tax time! And whether you love it or hate it, it’s undoubtedly seen by scammers as a lucrative opportunity to cash in.
Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, so sometimes it can be hard to know whether a message is really from the ATO or a scam. In 2017, the ATO received over 81,000 reports of scams with $2.3 million reported lost and almost 10,000 people divulging personal information.
How you can protect yourself
Keep your personal information private
Your personal information is valuable so stop and think before sharing it with anyone. Cybercriminals use all kinds of tricks to disguise their true identity and get you to hand over your personal information or money.
What to do:
- Don’t give out your Tax File Number (TFN), date of birth or bank details unless you’ve checked the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and they genuinely require these details.
- You should always verify the identity of the person you’re dealing with through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search. Don’t ever use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent to you.
Beware of ATO impersonation scams
Impersonating trusted agencies like the ATO is a common trick used by scammers. Be wary of emails, phone calls and text messages demanding payment for fake tax debts.
A scammer’s approach may sound legitimate, but remember, the ATO will never ask you to pay your tax debt into a non-ATO bank account, via pre-paid cards or with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
If something doesn’t sound right, you can always check your myGov account, ask your registered tax professional, or call the ATO directly on 1800 008 540.
Read more about the latest ATO impersonation scams.
Watch out for tax refund scams
Know the status of your tax affairs. If you are aware of the details of any debts owed, refunds due and lodgements outstanding, you are less likely to fall victim to a scam.
What to do:
- Look out for messages offering you a tax refund in return for a fee.
- Login to your official myGov account to check your status or contact your registered tax professional.
- If you’re ever unsure about whether any message is really from the ATO, call the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540, or visit the ATO scam verification website.
How you can protect your business
If you’re a business owner, criminals can use stolen information such as your AUSkey to commit tax fraud in your name or your business’ name.
Beware of anyone asking you to ‘confirm’ your details, purchase a service, update registrations, process your activity statement or refund or pay invoices.
Remember: the ATO will not ask you to make a payment into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank, nor will they ask for payment via gift cards (such as iTunes cards) or via money transfer. They will not demand a payment in Bitcoin or pre-paid credit card. You can check payment methods for the ATO by visiting the ATO website.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you are ever unsure about a request for information or the validity of an ATO interaction, call the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540 or visit the ATO scams website.
If you have been a victim of cybercrime such as fraud, report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).
Scams can also be reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch.
Where to go for more information
For more tips and information about cyber safety at tax time and where to get help, visit the Stay Smart Online website.
Subscribe to the free Stay Smart Online Alert service for advice on the latest online threats and tips on how to stay safe online.