Phone scams are on the rise, the ATO warns. Below we have looked into how to identify phone scams.

What scammers may do:

  • Scammers may threaten you with immediate arrest. They do this to create a sense of urgency and instill a fear response.
  • Scammers may send unsolicited pre-recorded messages (robocalls) to your phone. These will be delivered when you answer the call or may be left on your voicemail.
  • They often ask you to return the call. Responding to a robocall gives the scammer increased certainty that they are speaking to someone who believes their message.
  • Scammers may use technology to project legitimate numbers onto the caller ID on your call log. This may include legitimate ATO numbers. They do this to make you think the call originates from an Australian number.
  • Scammers may demand immediate payment and keep you on the phone line until you pay. They may advise that hanging up will trigger the arrest warrant. This is done to ensure payment is made by the end of the call.
  • Scammers may refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent. They do this to prevent anyone from telling you that it’s a scam and interrupting the payment.
  • Scammers may attempt to make a conference call with a fake tax professional, law enforcement officer or another official. This is done to add legitimacy to the call and increase the fear response. The second person dialed in is another scammer.
  • Scammers may request payment by iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers. These vouchers can be easily purchased and sold globally and are an untraceable form of currency.
  • Scammers may request payment by Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, either directly or deposited into an ATM. This currency is difficult to trace and offers a degree of anonymity.
  • Scammers may request that you pay money into a personal bank account. Australian-based accounts are established by money mules. The money moves accounts until it eventually is sent offshore.
  • Scammers may request that you pay via cardless cash transfer.
  • Scammers may request you to pay money via offshore wire transfer (where the scammers are located).
  • Scammers may request that you pay a fee to receive a refund, usually by credit card. Credit card information is often stolen.
  • Scammers may offer payment arrangements if you can’t pay the full amount. This is done to increase instances of payments and increase the total amount paid.

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