June 2014 — The Australian Tax Office is warning Australians to be on the lookout for a malicious scam that intimidates taxpayers into paying a fake tax debt over the phone.
“This scam is particularly concerning because it threatens taxpayers with legal action or arrest if they do not immediately hand over money and their personal financial details over the phone,” said ATO Chief Technology Officer Todd Heather.
“As tax time approaches, scammers are becoming more cunning in their attempts to defraud the public and trick them into handing over money, their Tax File Number (TFN) or other personal information.
“We encourage people to contact us if they are worried they may have fallen victim to a scam call, email, SMS or a face-to-face scam,” Mr Heather said.
From time-to-time the ATO will send taxpayers emails, SMS messages or official social media updates alerting them to new services. Our messages will never request personal or financial information by SMS or email.
What to do when call is received
If people receive a call from the ATO and are concerned about providing their personal information over the phone, they should ask for the caller’s name and phone them back through the ATO’s switchboard on 13 28 69. If people think they may have fallen victim to a phone scam, contact the ATO on 1800 060 062 (8.00am–6.00pm, Monday to Friday).
Since 1 March 2014 the ATO has seen a spike in reports from the public of email and phishing scams from 9,368 to 11,344 compared with the same period last year.
Contact ATO online
To increase community awareness of scams the ATO has launched a new video campaign on ato.gov.au/identitycrime with helpful tips to protect personal information. Information on online security and scams can be found on ato.gov.au/onlinesecurity.