Australian regulators and agencies have warned Australian taxpayers to be extra vigilant during tax time this year and to be on alert for dodgy end-of-financial-year (EOFY) scams, with scammers likely to take advantage of Australians who are submitting tax returns or waiting for the outcome of an assessment.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) warned taxpayers on Monday to be on the lookout for tax-themed scam emails, text messages and calls over the coming months and encouraged Australians to discuss how to identify scams with family and friends.
Some of the most common tax scams include calls from people pretending to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or another government department, or robocalls requesting urgent payment of a tax debt or personal information to process a tax refund.
Apart from scam calls, Australians may also be targeted through email or SMS by scammers claiming to be from MyGov. These scam messages are likely to include links to provide financial information to receive fake refunds.
ACMA urged Australians to not rely on the contact information provided by callers, or in emails and SMS, and not to provide personal information or make payments to callers over the phone.
ACCC warns about MyGov scams
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is also putting Australians on alert for EOFY scams, urging the community to look out for notifications pretending to be from MyGov.
On Twitter, the ACCC’s Scamwatch urged people to “watch out for messages appearing to be from MyGov claiming your tax return has been processed. These are scam messages. Ignore, delete, and block”.
The watchdog also directed Australians to report all scams to Scamwatch.
In May, the ATO said it received 1,978 reports of ATO impersonation scams, which is a 70% increase from last month. People reported losing $2,903 to scammers, which is a decrease from the previous month and from May 2022. The most common method of scam payment was bank transfer.
The ATO also said it has seen an increase in fake social media accounts impersonating the ATO, employees, and senior executive staff across Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and other platforms.
“These fake accounts ask users that interact with the ATO to send them a direct message so they can help with their enquiry. The people behind these fake accounts are trying to steal your personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses and bank account information,” the ATO said in a statement in January.
According to the scam advice available on the ATO’s website, people should be wary of all phone calls, emails and text messages claiming to be from the ATO. If Australians think a phone call, email, voicemail or a social media interaction claiming to be from the ATO is not genuine, they should not engage with it. Instead, contact the ATO directly at 1800 008 540 to verify or report a scam.
The ATO says it will also never threaten someone with arrest, demand immediate payment of a tax debt or fine, or cancel or suspend someone’s Tax File Number.
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Source: Smart Company