Australian Taxation Office warns against scammers at tax time

Look out: The Australian Taxation Office is warning about a spike in automated scam calls impersonating the ATO. Photo: Shutterstock
Look out: The Australian Taxation Office is warning about a spike in automated scam calls impersonating the ATO. Photo: Shutterstock

Scams are on the rise, and The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning everyone to be on their guard.

A new batch of scammers claims they've suspended their target's tax file number (TFN) following suspected fraudulent activity.

Since the beginning of this year, the ATO has received 638 reports of this scam, with seven victims paying out nearly $118,000.

"We're seeing that instead of scammers asking for a specific amount of money, they're requesting victims transfer every last dollar in their bank account," Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski said.

"What's most malicious is that in some cases, these scammers are stealing money under the guise of saving it from other fraudsters trying to access their account."

The large amounts being lost per person is alarming.

Trent Jakubowski, The Australian Taxation Office

Starting with a robo-call, the two common scripts have been:

  • Your TFN has been suspended as scammers have your TFN details. You need to transfer your money in order to protect it while we sort it out, and;
  • Your TFN has been used illegally. You need to move all money in your bank account to a holding account pending the outcome of legal action.

Young people between the ages of 18-24 have paid the most under this new tactic, with one person losing $36,000.

"This is a reminder for everyone to keep their guard up when answering an unexpected call. While we more often hear stories of older Australians being targeted by scammers, these devastating losses show that anyone can be a target," Mr Jakubowski said.

If you receive a call, email or SMS and aren't sure, it's OK to hang up or not respond. Instead, phone the ATO's dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it was legitimate. You can also report a scam online at ato.gov.au/reportascam.

Report it

Scam line: 1800 008 540

ato.gov.au/reportascam

Signs you are being scammed

Receiving a scam call can be unnerving, irritating, and at worst costly.

The Australian Taxation Office does call taxpayers, but will never:

  • send unsolicited pre-recorded phone messages
  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
  • suspend your TFN
  • request direct transfers of money to a personal bank account
  • project our number onto your caller ID

If you think you're receiving a scam call, just hang up.

SHARE