With tax time upon us, tax-related scams have now emerged once again. In past years, individuals have been targeted by phishing emails and social engineering attacks from scammers who have been impersonating the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Some of the most recent scams that have been circulating are text messages that claim that the individual is suspected in cryptocurrency tax evasion or there's problems with their Tax File Number. Scammers are also trying to phish for victims on social media. We've put together a guide on the most common scams, what to look out for, and what to do when you've received a fake message.

If you need support or just someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available to chat at any time.

Email, Phone and SMS

Scammers impersonating the ATO have been attempting phishing attacks related to cryptocurrency tax evasion, offers of tax file numbers (TFN), and fake refunds. As part of these attacks, they are requesting additional personal information and bank details from individuals.

When faced with a suspicious message via email or SMS remember that the ATO will:

  • Never send an email or SMS with a link to log onto online services

  • Never send unsolicited messages asking an individual to return personal identifying information through other channels.

If you're faced with a suspicious phone call remember that the ATO will never:

  • Threaten an individual with immediate arrest

  • Call from a mobile number, the ATO will only call from a number that shows up as No Caller ID

  • Demand you stay on the line until payment is made

  • Send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone

  • Cancel Tax File Numbers

  • Prevent an individual from discussing tax affairs with a trusted advisor/agent

  • Initiate a conference call with a third party (i.e law enforcement or tax agent)

  • Request payment of a debt via iTunes, Google Play, STEAM, or other retail vouchers/gift cards

  • Ask an individual to pay a fee to receive a refund

Check out some examples below of text messages and links which have been received from scammers.

ATO social media scams

This scam sees scammers pretending to be ATO workers on social media. Fake accounts pretending to be ATO workers and using ATO branding have been identified on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms (see image below).

The scam begins with scammers looking for public comments and conversations on social media where people ask questions or make a complaint about the ATO.

The fake ATO account then replies, or sends a direct message, offering to fix the person's tax complaint or follow up on their question.

Once they've gained the victim's trust, the scammer then asks the user to click on a link or provide personal details to try to access their private information, bank accounts and money.

What to do

If you're the recipient of one of these scam messages or think you might be, it's wise to read up on what you can do to avoid being tricked.

  • Do not give out your tax file number (TFN), date of birth or bank details unless you trust the person you are dealing with and they genuinely require these details. Never give them out over social media.

  • Be careful when downloading attachments or clicking links, even if the message seems to come from someone you know. The ATO will never send you an email or SMS with a link to log in to their online services.

  • Never share personal information, such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details on social media, even through private message.

  • Check to see if the social media account you are dealing with is verified.

  • Before you enter a payment arrangement or hand over personal information, contact the ATO or your tax agent using a number you have looked up yourself.

  • If in doubt don’t respond to the message or phone call and contact Sonder for advice and information or report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch.

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If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Information sourced from ATO and News.com.au.

Image credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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