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Tax time - stay alert to fraud and scams targeting you
18 June 2019
It’s tax time and scammers are out to gain access to your money during this busy time. Media stories highlight how the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is chasing down individual, corporate and business tax evaders and their methods for evading tax – “scamming the system”. The ATO has had success in bringing evaders to heel.
However, tax time is a time to be on the lookout for scammers targeting you - the tax payer.
According to the 2018 ACCC’s targeting scams report there was 114,000 reports of ATO impersonation scams with $2.8 million in losses from Australians.
These numbers demonstrate that phishing scams are very prevalent and have evolved to become more and more sophisticated. But many common scams are still occurring – including threatening or demanding emails, SMS or phone calls wanting personal details and/or for you to pay “fines”, “monies owed” to avoid prosecution.
The best advice is to take a deep breath and consider: Would a government department really contact me like this? If an urgent payment is required, why have I not been engaged previously or received official documents in the mail? Would a business behave in such an unprofessional manner?
Scam emails or SMS can look professional - with logos, etc. – and phone calls can also feel realistic. The best action is call the ATO, or whatever company has sent the communication, to check if the communication is authentic.
Avoid tax scams
- If you receive a phone call from the ATO, just hang up. If the call felt legitimate, call back on 1800 008 540 or an independently sourced number, like one found on a company website.
- The ATO advises that it will never send a link to you via email to access your personal information or online services directly, instead it will always refer you to the myGov website or a registered tax agent. This is the same for banking institutions, like Westpac.
- Details of debts owed, refunds due and lodgements outstanding are available through myGov or my contacting your registered tax agent. The ATO does not use payment methods such as iTunes, Bitcoin cryptocurrency, store gift cards or pre-paid visa cards
- If you feel pressured to act, make the time to take a breath, think about the situation, and talk to someone about it. Scammers lure you in by advising there is no time and attempt to overwhelm you so that you will comply with their instructions.
Source: tips sourced from ATO,
Visit scamwatch.gov.au for more information on the different types of scams impacting Australians.
For more information on how Westpac protects your identity and bank accounts, visit www.westpac.com.au/protect
Westpac Scam & Awareness Seminars.
Westpac is helping to protect you from scams. Join us for an awareness and education seminar. Coming to a local branch near you. Email us to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org