With tax-time on the horizon, scammers are out in force… and they’ve found ingenious new ways to part you with your hard-earned cash. Check out the latest scams doing the rounds, and always take special care when contacted by government bodies in relation to your tax claims.
ATO Refund Claim
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned about the emergence of a scam where “…scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.” Never click on a text message link from a purported government body, no matter how legitimate it sounds… we guarantee it will not end well!
Unpaid Tax Threat
A sinister four-phase scam begins when you’re contacted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to say there is a warrant out for your arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years. The scam starts with a text message, and then within minutes your mobile rings and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. They then ask for your accountant’s details. You then receive a call supposedly from your ‘accounting firm’ asking you to verify the AFP/ATO claims. Finally, you are provided with a way, if you act quickly, to make the AFP go away by paying a fee before your ‘imminent arrest’.
MyGov Refund Claim
If you get an email with the subject line ‘Important information regarding your account’, stamped with the myGov logo, beware. The email asks you to click on a link to claim your refund, which then takes you to a fake tax refund claim form. This email is a phishing scam designed to steal your personal and financial information. Needless to say, do not click on the link.
Medicare Rebate Claim
A new phishing scam sends text messages purportedly from Medicare advising you that you’re owed a $200 rebate from Medicare. Once you click on the claim link, you’re asked to provide your personal details including bank account details for the ‘rebate.’ Again, don’t click on the link….
How can you tell if it’s a scam?
No government body, including the ATO, AFP, MyGov and Medicare, will ever:
- send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;
- use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation;
- request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or
- request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.
Tips to Stay Safe
To protect yourself from falling victim to fraudsters, it’s important that you:
- Know the status of your tax affairs. If you’re aware of the details of any debts owed, refunds due and lodgements outstanding, you are less likely to fall victim to a scam;
- Be suspicious of messages that aren’t addressed directly to you, or don’t use your correct name;
- Don’t open messages if you don’t know the sender, or if your gut tells you something’s up;
- Login to your official myGov account to check your inbox for any legitimate emails. The messages you get in your official myGov Inbox are secure and it’s safe to open any links included.
Keep an eye on the latest scam alerts, and make sure you report it if you spot one that looks a little fishy by calling the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540. You can find out more about verifying or spotting a scam, but if you’re unsure whether you’ve been targeted just call us on 9887 8751 and we’ll happily check it out for you.