Don't get scammed this tax time
As tax time approaches, Aussies need to be extra cautious when it comes to scams and fraud. Scammers increase activity during tax season, preying on individuals who are expecting refunds or are anxious about their tax obligations.
According to the ATO, scams cost Australians millions of dollars every year. In 2020, the ATO received more than 37,000 reports of scams, with victims losing more than $21 million.
One of the most common tax scams is the impersonation of the ATO. Scammers may contact individuals via phone, email, or text message, claiming to be from the ATO and demanding payment for unpaid taxes or threatening legal action. They may also request personal information, such as tax file numbers or bank account details.
It's important to remember that the ATO will never ask for personal information or payment via email or text message. The ATO will always identify themselves and provide a reference number, and will only contact individuals via their official channels, such as the myGov website or their verified Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts .
If you're unsure whether a communication is legitimate, it's best to contact your accountant, or the ATO directly on 1800 008 540 to verify.
Another common tax scam is phishing emails. Scammers may send emails that appear to be from the ATO, requesting individuals to click on a link or download an attachment. These emails may contain malware or viruses, which can infect your computer or steal personal information.
To protect yourself from phishing emails, it's important to be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders. Look for red flags, such as spelling or grammar errors, suspicious links or attachments, or requests for personal information.
In addition to scams impersonating the ATO, individuals should also be wary of tax refund scams. These scammers may promise a large tax refund in exchange for your bank details or other personal information. These scams are often advertised on social media or through unsolicited phone calls.
To protect yourself from tax scams and fraud, there are several steps you can take:
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or text messages, especially those requesting personal information or demanding payment.
- Ensure you only access government services directly via ato.gov.au, my.gov.au or the ATO app
- Scammers try their best to keep people engaged in a conversation for as long as possible to collect as much personal information as they can. If in doubt, just hang up and contact the ATO directly.
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to protect your online accounts.
- Keep your computer and mobile devices up-to-date with the latest security software.
- Check your bank statements and credit reports regularly to detect any unauthorized transactions.
- Report any suspicious activity to the ATO or the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
In conclusion, tax season can be a stressful time for many Australians, and scammers are known to take advantage of the situation. By being vigilant and cautious, individuals can protect themselves from tax scams and fraud, and ensure that their personal information and finances are secure.
Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. When in doubt, always verify the legitimacy of a communication before providing any personal information or making any payments.