Scammers pretending to represent the Australian Taxation Office have stolen more than $800,000 in the past month after frightening people into handing over their money.
The ATO received more than 37,000 reports of scam attempts in November and one elderly person lost more than $236,000 over five months. The scammers use software that resembles a legitimate phone number to disguise their identities.
Firstly, we advise not to give out any private information to anyone contacting you if you are not expecting the call, text message or email. Always check email addresses, look out for misspellings or unlikely added works/letters. When receiving a call we advise hanging up and calling the company back using a trusted number on their website to check if the call was legitimate.
The ATO regularly contacts people by phone, email and SMS but Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said there were some tell-tale signs it isn't the tax office.
Tips to identify ATO scammers:
If there is a number displayed in your caller ID you can be confident it isn't the ATO.
The tax office only takes direct credits to bank accounts with the BSB numbers 092-009 and 093-003.
The ATO does not send people emails or text messages asking them to click on a link to provide personal details or to download a file or open an attachment.
Be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if you weren't expecting it.
The ATO never requests payment of debts via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards or cryptocurrency, and will not request a fee to release a refund.
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a scammer, you should hang up and phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.