News headlines

Beware of email and SMS tax scams!

The Australian Tax Office is warning taxpayers of a number of scam currently doing the rounds, with the perpetrators taking advantage of this time of the year when many people are considering filing their tax return, or have just done so.

Popular scams at the moment include emails and texts.  One type of scam email claims to come from the ATO offering a tax refund, providing a link to what is supposed to be an ATO website and asking for personal and credit card details.

Another version, also claiming to be from the ATO, asked for the recipient to complete a form within an attached zip file, to receive a tax refund.  if you receive such an email, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT, as it can contain a malicious program or a virus.

The ATO advises that you can check where the link in an email is going by moving your mouse over the link in the email and look at the URL in the bottom bar of the browser;  if it looks suspicious, don’t click it.

The website also advises that you can help to protect yourself from SMS and email scams by carefully reading them to see if they are poorly worded and/or contain spelling and grammitical mistakes.  Fake emails often, but not always, contain mis-spellings, poor grammar, missing words, and gaps in logic;  these types of mistakes help scammers avoid scam filters.

The ATO website at www.ato.gov.au states that the Australian Taxation Office does not email or SMA asking for personal or credit card details and that any SMS or email that requests additional information before a refund can be released is a hoax.

It also states that the ATO can only calculate tax refunds after you have reported information to them about your financial activity for the year.  Based on that information, they automatically pay any refund due ion your nominated bank account or send you a cheque, or a notice or account statement by mail to let you know of your total tax liability and if you owe money.  This statement will also tell you when you need to make any payments.

Be wary of communications which do not address you by name, or those which address you by your email address.

Also be wary of those which ask for your personal or financial information, such as your date of birth, address, credit card details and PIN number – the ATO does not ask you to provide this information via email or SMS.

If you have receive a fraudulent communication, or are unsure of the legitimacy of a communication you have received which claims to be from the ATO, or have received unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO let them know.  You can do so by forwarding the entire email to:  ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au

In order for the ATO to act promptly on your email, they do not respond individually to any emails sent to this address.  This email address is to be used only for the reporting of unsolicited emails.  You can also check on any communication that you aren’t sure about by phoning the ATO on 13 28 61 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.