The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued a warning that a new phone scam has already targeted upwards of 600 Australians over the last two months. Authorities, business accountants, the ATO, and the general public are equally concerned.
The hardest-hit demographic was people aged 18-24, making up a third of the total number of people who have received the scam call. Two young people have handed over almost $50K between them to the scammers.
“This new batch of scammers are claiming they’ve suspended their target’s tax file number [TFN] following suspected fraudulent activity,” ATO Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski said.
In this con, the scammers pretend to be the ones helping you and protecting your money. Each scam starts with a robot-like call that says scammers have a hold of your TFN number, and that it’s suspended. It then tells people they need to transfer money to the ‘ATO’ for ‘protection’ while the issue is resolved.
While the number of people falling victim to the scam is low, authorities and business accountants are concerned that those who are forgo large sums of money.
How to Spot a Scam
Firstly, the ATO does not send unsolicited, pre-recorded phone messages. Additionally, they also don’t use blocked numbers, so if you see one appear on your phone, it’s not the ATO. The real ATO will only show as a private number.
Secondly, the ATO will never suspend your TFN or ask you to transfer money. In addition to this, any call that uses foul language, is aggressive, or makes threats, is a red flag – the ATO would never do this.
Mr Jakubowski recommended keeping a close eye on your tax affairs and reaching out to your business accountant so you know if your legitimate tax is due, and when that due date is. Be conscious of sharing your personal and financial information, and of clicking on unknown links, downloading files, or opening attachments.
“It’s okay to hang up or not respond if you receive a call, email or SMS you aren’t sure about,” said Mr Jakubowski.
If something doesn’t feel right, call the ATO scam line on 1800 008 540 or check with your business accountant.
The information in this article is general in nature and might not be right for your circumstances. Please arrange a meeting with one of our Accountants to discuss your particular needs. Accountants 2 Business Ph (07) 3823 2344