The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have reported an increase in the number of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be from the ATO. The scammers are sending pre-recorded messages claiming that you have a debt with the ATO, and if you don’t call to arrange payment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. The scammers are using technology to manipulate the caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number (otherwise known as ‘spoofing’).
Does it affect me?
Calls are being received by hundreds of Australian taxpayers.
How do I stay safe?
Calls from the ATO do not show a number on caller ID (they always appear as a private number) and the ATO don’t use pre-recorded messages. If you receive a pre-recorded message claiming to be from the ATO, do not return the call and do not provide any personal details, either hang up or simply delete the voicemail. Remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never:
– threaten you with immediate arrest
– demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
– refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent
– keep you on the line until payments is made.
If you are in doubt about a call claiming to be from the ATO hang up and phone the ATO’s official scam line on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.
Read more about threat-based impersonation scams – including what to do if you have given personal information to a scammer.