Tax

ATO warns scammers on the loose at tax time – here’s how to spot them

Patrick Stafford /

The Tax Office has issued a warning about the growing number of scams being reported, attempting to trick businesses into paying more for dodgy tax services, which scammers say will provide an even bigger return.

This comes just days after the Fair Work Ombudsman warned businesses of similar types of workplace authority scammers.

Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the office so far has received over 5,000 reports of phishing emails using the ATO name, and over 3,000 reports of attempting phone scams.

These fake emails use the ATO graphic, and the message identifies the sender as being part of the ATO.

D’Ascenzo says businesses need to remain vigilant.

“The ATO tends to report higher incidences of scams at this time of the year,” D’Ascenzo said.

“With the end of financial year approaching and many people expecting refunds, scammers are using this opportunity to pretend to be from the ATO. It is important that the community stays vigilant as scammers are increasing their efforts to make scams appear more genuine and legitimate.”

The ATO says victims have reported calls at any time of the day, and on any day of the week. The problem is that when these scammers get any piece of information – including just your name or bank details – they can commit identify fraud to lodge returns in your name.

“Anyone can be a victim of a scam,” D’Ascenzo said. “If correspondence seems suspicious, too good to be true, asks you for personal details or cannot be verified through an official source, it is likely to be a scam and should be reported.”

But there’s some good news too. Phishing emails can be easy to spot – the formatting won’t be quite right, or the email it’s sent from has spelling errors.

“Be cautious of phone calls or emails suggesting you are due a refund or asking you to transfer money overseas,” the ATO says.

“The ATO will never ask you to provide credit card details or copies of personal identification such as driver’s license or passport in an email.”

Here are a few examples of phishing emails from the ATO website, so grab an official email from the tax office you have on hand and compare it with these:

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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