As the deadline for lodging taxes draws near, the Australian Tax Office is warning of yet another scam that involves people impersonating the ATO via a text message.
- People are being asked to divulge personal details on a fake version of the myGov website
- The tax deadline for the vast majority of Australians is midnight on October 31
- The real myGov website is experiencing issues of its own as the deadline looms
The latest scam involves a text message being sent out via persons claiming to be from the ATO asking people to update their details on the myGov website. However, the website the text hyperlinks to is a fake.
Users are then asked to enter various pieces of personal information, including their bank and credit card details.
“Don’t click any links even if the SMS looks convincing,” a statement sent from the ATO read.
“The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.
“All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.”
The myGov website was experiencing its own issues as Australians rushed to beat the October 31 midnight tax return deadline, and it acknowledged via their Twitter account that there were problems for those lodging.
“We’re aware there are some minor issues with myGov and we’re working quickly to fix it. Please try again later,” it responded to a user, who had complained.
The scam is just the latest in a long line, with previous instances of scammers calling people claiming to represent the ATO and one in which they even turned up at a South Australian man’s house.
In that instance, the men impersonated Australian Federal Police officers and held out an eftpos machine, telling the man he had a tax debt. The man did not pay and reported them to the police.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest Targeting Scams report estimated Australians lost $489 million to scams in 2018.
The regulator noted there had been a 900 per cent surge in the number of reported “ATO scams”.
One version of the scam involves people receiving phone calls from a robotic voice demanding a call-back along with a threat.
Another variation involves callers pretending to be from the ATO, telling the victim that they owe enormous tax debts.
The caller tells the victim that a warrant has been issued for their arrest — unless they purchase thousands of dollars in Apple iTunes vouchers and then relay the cards’ redemption codes to the fraudsters.
How to protect yourself from scams:
- If you receive a phone call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Commonwealth DPP or Australian Taxation Office telling you about an arrest warrant, hang up.
- If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a government department, contact the body directly.
- Don’t rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller — find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
- Never send money via wire transfer to anyone you do not know or trust.
- Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
If you require further information, why not contact our accountants by clicking here to submit an online enquiry form or calling us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange a teleconference or appointment.