Scammers are offering fake ABNs to prospective small business owners, the ATO warns

tax-mistakes-EOFY Practical Compliance Guideline

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned prospective business owners to beware of scammers offering fake tax file numbers (TFN) or Australian Business Numbers (ABN) and charging for the fraudulent service.

Taxpayers can freely apply for TFNs through the ATO itself, and can register an ABN through the Australian Business Register.

But on Tuesday, the ATO said scammers are offering those services on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, harming unsuspecting victims in the process.

In a statement, ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said the organisation was concerned by a recent spike in reported scams involving fake TFN and ABN applications.

Scammers are constantly developing new ways to target the community, Loh said, and we expect to see more of these malicious attempts to steal identity details in the lead up to tax time.

While would-be business owners can also register a TFN or ABN through a tax agent, the ATO has urged applicants to check their registration on the Tax Practitioners Board beforehand.

Impersonation scams on the rise

Beyond scams offering fake TFNs and ABNs alone, the ATO said 50,000 people reported scams where bad actors impersonated the ATO itself in 2021.

Those attempts are carrying into 2022, Loh said.

We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud, he said.

2021 also brought on a rash of new scams targeting cryptocurrency holders, where malicious actors attempt to ‘phish’ sensitive details out of investors.

The ATO has previously warned of such scams, which have seen victims lose thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.

Anyone who suspects they are being targeted by an ATO impersonation scam should contact the organisation directly at 1800 008 540.


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