If a tax refund or promise sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Tax scams can take many forms, such as false emails and text messages, but phone scams are the number one threat in Australia.
Phone scammers usually impersonate an ATO employee and tell the receiver that they owe a tax debt. The scammers may intimidate or threaten the receiver with severe penalties if they don’t pay.
Some scammers will even try to go beyond stealing your money, and will try to steal your identity instead. These scammers are more interested in accessing personal identification data, such as a person’s tax file number, bank account details, drivers licence, or passport number.
The scammer can then use these private details to lodge fake tax returns and keep the refunds for themselves or claim government benefits while pretending to be that person.
Individuals can protect themselves from such scams by simply being aware of what the tax office does to collect information from taxpayers.
The ATO will never ask for an individual’s confidential details or threaten a person over the phone. The ATO will also never send text messages and emails asking you to enter personal details online.
However, if a call, email or text message seems genuine, it is best to contact the ATO to check whether the correspondence is valid and true.