Tax scam season has arrived. Tax Arana recently sent out an email to clients, informing them of the latest bout of tax scams and how to spot them. The response to this email was overwhelming! We’ve had numbers of clients tell us of their experiences, we’ve had news stories in two local papers, and we continue to field requests for more information.
It’s not just clients, but it seems people all over Australia are currently being targeted. Many have received phone calls from people claiming to be calling on behalf of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). During these scam calls, people are told there is a warrant out for their arrest and immediate payment for a (non-existent) tax debt is demanded.
Tax scams are fast evolving and these scammers are becoming more difficult to identity. They can be very convincing and most are redirecting their overseas phones lines so it looks like they are calling from an Australian number. This makes life a little tricky when you have to screen phone calls.
So, how do you spot a tax scam?
The best way to spot a tax scam is to understand that the ATO:
would NEVER issue a warrant for your arrest,
would NEVER ask for payment over the phone,
NEVER ask for iTunes vouchers – or similar as payment,
works during regular 5 day a week office hours; if you’re receiving calls from the ‘ATO’ on a Sunday evening; it’s not them!
So what other precautions can you take to avoid being scammed?
Even if the caller claims to have spoken to your tax agent; never give your details over the phone, hang up and call your tax agent directly and ask them if you do have a debt.
At Tax Arana we’ve told all our clients to PLEASE visit the ATO ‘Verify or report a scam’ page on their website and read it thoroughly. Share this page with your family and friends; help spread the word. And yes, scams are so frequent that the ATO has a team dedicated to deal with them!
If someone calls you and claim that you have a tax debt, and mentions ‘warrant for your arrest’ and ‘payment’ hang up; it’s a scam. As we said above, the ATO would never call you directly about a tax debt and ask for immediate payment.
CALL THE ATO IMMEDIATELY IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS:
1800 008 540 (ATO impersonation scam hotline)
Call this number if you think you may have fallen victim to an ATO impersonation scam.
1800 467 033 (ATO Client Identity Support Centre)
Call this number if you’ve provided your tax file number (TFN) to someone who shouldn’t have it, or you suspect someone is misusing your TFN.
ATO hotlines are open between 8.00am–6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
If you’re not a client, but would like to receive important alerts regarding tax scams, and similar, sign up for our newsletter via our contact page.
If you’re a Tax Arana client, and worried about a tax scam, get in touch as soon as possible. Stay vigilant everyone, and help spread the word on how to avoid tax scams!