Text message from the ATO? Beware, it might be a scam


If you get a text message from the tax office this holiday season, check it twice, because regardless of whether you’ve been naughty or nice, scammers have you in their sights.

That’s the message from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which has issued a warning to businesses about “savvy scammers” exploiting December deadlines to rip people off.

Assistant commissioner Karen Foat says scammers are getting better at impersonating the tax office, warning businesses to watch out for suspicious text messages.

“While some taxpayers will have tax payments due from November, the ATO will always let you know how much you owe and the due date when we send your notice of assessment,” Foat said in a statement circulated Wednesday.

“If you’re unsure, you can check if you have a legitimate debt anytime by logging into your myGov account, or by contacting us or your tax agent.”

If you get this text message, beware!

Last year saw the “biggest ever” peak in money being lost to scammers over the holidays, with $2 million walking out the door between November 2018 and January 2019.

So far this year, 622 people have lost over $2.1 million, which as far as comparisons go, is a monetary improvement on 2018.

“We’ve also recently spotted scammers using the cardless cash feature offered by many banks. Through this feature, victims are sent codes to withdraw cash from an ATM, which they then read out to the scammer,” Foat said.

“One Sydneysider was duped out of $500 through this tactic. After a client alerted him that he was scammed, he reported the incident to us.

“In October, we also saw a spike in email and SMS scams, often asking people to update their personal details.

“These scams usually contain links to fake online services to get personal information that enables scammers to steal your identity.”

What the ATO won’t do:

  • Use caller ID;
  • Request payments of debts via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards; or
  • Send an email or SMS requesting you to click on a hyperlink or log on to government services.

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