Beware Of Scams As Tax Time Looms

Dodgy phishing emails and dubious phone calls telling you that you have just scored a tax refund are, sadly, a fact of life. But they are particularly prevalent in the run-up to the end of the financial year, so don't get tricked into responding to one.

In a recent media reminder, tax commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo noted that email and phone scams are on the rise and are likely to become even more prevalent come July:

During the busy tax season, scammers will try to catch you off guard using phone calls, letters, text messages, emails, bogus websites and even false job advertisements to trick you into providing your personal details and pay money.

As well as dodgy emails asking for personal details to "confirm" a refund, beware of phone scammers seeking payment in order to send refund money. That's as fake (and as annoying) as the similar Microsoft call scam. Many will be self-evidently fake (like the pictured example aimed at UK taxpayers), but it's worth reminding friends and relatives not to be fooled.



    The ATO (and other institutions) really need to do more about identity verification when they call up people. It isn't appropriate for them to call me out of the blue, and then ask for my personal information to verify who I am, they should be providing information to me so I can verify who THEY are.

    Just last month I got a call claiming to be form the ATO, the first thing they did was ask for my DOB, I immediately challenged them as to how I know they're really from the ATO, they said I could call back on some number to verify, which I replied that I had no way of verifying that number actually belonged to the ATO (I was out at the time), by this stage I was sure it was a scam, the person on the other end of the phone then spoke to his supervisor and came back and told me that they would send out a letter instead, I thought that would be the last I hear from them, but sure enough I actually did receive a letter from the ATO, so much for their processes to prevent fraudulent calls.

    This could have easily been avoid if they ha set up a simple challenge/response question for both parties. Simple have the ATO chose a question and give me the answer (eg, Q "What colour is the sky in a pale blue night?" A "The deepest of red") and I do the same thing in reverse, so when they do call me or I call them I don't need to give out personal information to verify my identity and I can verify who they are.

      Mate ever heard of Google the number they give you? See if it actually is on the website?

        Perhaps if you read what I wrote you would have noticed the " (I was out at the time)" statement.

    @ Cameron, and when you forget your challenge response as you only talk to them once every few years... and then get frustrated / abusive towards their customer service people because they won't give you the information you want? What then?

    After working at the ATO my eyes were opened to how whiney and negligent people are of their own affairs. Want a good relationship with the tax office (just like any other company or gov dept)? Stay in touch!

    Seriously... the amount of people who whinge about getting hit with Failure To Lodge or other penalties when a simple phonecall or letter to the ATO to let them know where you're at or even to politely request that they waive the penalty (which will happen MOST of the time... if you just ASK!)....

    Sorry Cameron, not aiming this at you... though, in your situation (and after my experience with outbound calls) a simple "well IF you're from the Tax Office and your calling me there must be a reason, so I'll call you back when I have some time in the next few days", will work wonders.

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