The new financial year has well and truly begun, and if you haven’t already visited your accountant or logged into your MyGov ATO portal to submit your tax return, getting your tax sorted will be high on the agenda over the coming months.
However, we are being warned about a big rise in tax time scams after it was reported that scams cost Australians $851 million last year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and very little of that money is ever recovered.
While this figure is clearly concerning, it only represents a portion of the overall amount, as many scams are unlikely to be reported.
“Unfortunately scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the Covid-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis,” said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.
Scams come in many forms and through various channels. They are in fact so common that the ATO has a dedicated page to alert taxpayers of these scams.
How to avoid fraud at tax time
Be cautious of any suspicious text messages or emails claiming to be from the ATO requesting personal or financial information. Avoid clicking any links, opening any attachments or downloading any files if you have any doubts at all. Asking someone you trust if it looks real can also help if you are uncertain.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the ATO, threatening you with immediate arrest or stating that you must make a payment immediately to receive a tax refund, hang up on them.
Scammers may also send pre-recorded messages or voicemail messages requesting you to call back. Delete them and be sure not to call back any number they provide but to only call publicly listed numbers to confirm whether a call is legitimate or not.
Things the ATO will never do
They will never:
- send you an email or text message asking you to send them your information by email or text message
- send you an email or text message with a link to log into online services
- send a pre-recorded message saying the police are coming to arrest you or demanding urgent payment of money
ATO will never ask for payment by:
- bank transfers to a bank that is not the Reserve Bank of Australia
- overseas wire transfers
- iTunes or Google Play cards
- cardless cash transfers
- cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
What to do if you think you have been scammed
If you have been scammed or you believe you may have been, get in contact with the ATO using only the phone number provided on their official website. You can also report this directly to the ATO or via the Scamwatch Website.
If you have given your credit card or bank details to someone who shouldn’t have them, get in contact with us immediately.