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Tips to spot a scam (and what to do)

The ATO has recently warned that it is continuing to see instances of scam emails, SMS messages or telephone calls where criminals try to steal money or information from taxpayers. These scams can be very convincing and many individuals fall victim to these each year

To avoid becoming a victim, it is important that you know some of the common characteristics of a scam so that you can keep a sharp eye and ear out for potential fraudsters.

Generally, scam communications:

  • are unsolicited
  • are pushy and can be intimidating, threatening arrests or penalties if payment for an unknown tax debt is not made immediately
  • demand payment in full and in some instances via unconventional means such as iTunes cards, cash transfers or gift vouchers
  • ask you for your personal or financial information or to confirm information they pretend they have
  • can often be poorly worded, and (for written scams) could contain spelling and grammatical mistakes 
  • may promise you a tax refund in exchange for a payment or personal information
  • may contain an attachment or fake links requesting you to lodge a form – opening these attachments or links can cause you to download spyware or a virus.

How to report a scam

If a scammer or someone claiming to be from the ATO has contacted you and you are unsure of the legitimacy, let us know.

For phone scams you should:

  • hang up immediately
  • call the ATO’s dedicated scam reporting line 1800 008 540 between 8am to 6pm EST, Monday to Friday.

For email scams you should:

  • refrain from clicking on links or opening attachments
  • forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au

And of course, please feel free to check with us should you have any doubts or concerns.

Harper Group Chartered Accountants Frankston Ph 03 9770 1547

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is of a general nature only and is not personal financial or investment advice. Also, changes in legislation may occur frequently. We recommend that our formal advice be obtained before acting on the basis of this information. 

Michael Sinclair