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ATO warns of sophisticated scams following loss of $2m

The ATO has issued a new warning about scammers taking advantage of tax payment deadlines, after $2 million was lost from November 2018 to January this year.

ATO warns of sophisticated scams following loss of $2m
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • December 04, 2019
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Late last year, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) saw the biggest ever peak in money being lost to scammers pretending to be from the ATO, and this year the Tax Office is expecting the sophistication of these scammers to grow.

“They are getting better at impersonating large organisations and ramp up in periods where people expect to hear from us, to make their threats appear more legitimate,” said assistant commissioner Karen Foat.

“While some taxpayers will have tax payments due from November, the ATO will always let you know how much you owe and the due date when we send your notice of assessment.

“If you’re unsure, you can check if you have a legitimate debt anytime by logging into your myGov account, or by contacting us or your tax agent.”

She explained that people are increasingly reporting scams, which is decreasing the number of people handing over money to scammers.

“So far this year, 622 people paid over $2.1 million to scammers impersonating the ATO. We see these ATO impersonation scams by phone, email, SMS and even through message apps such as WhatsApp,” Ms Foat said.

“We’ve also recently spotted scammers using the cardless cash feature offered by many banks. Through this feature, victims are sent codes to withdraw cash from an ATM, which they then read out to the scammer.”

One Sydneysider was duped out of $500 through this tactic, Ms Foat said.

“In October, we also saw a spike in email and SMS scams, often asking people to update their personal details. These scams usually contain links to fake online services to get personal information that enables scammers to steal your identity,” Ms Foat added.

The ATO is reminding taxpayers that it would never use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation; project its number onto your caller ID; request payment of a debt via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency, or direct credit to a personal bank account; or send an email or SMS requesting you click on a hyperlink to log on to government services.

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