Over $1m lost to scams this year

THE Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning about the unprecedented numbers of pre-recorded phone calls experienced last year which impersonate legitimate tax office phone numbers.

Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said that scammers had adopted ‘Robocall’ technology to target taxpayers across the country.
“Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages in record numbers and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer,” he said, but “Our calls do not show a number on caller ID nor do we use pre-recorded messages.
“If the scammers do make contact, they will request payment of a tax debt – usually through unusual methods like bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers. Legitimate ways to pay your tax debt are listed on our website.
“The scammers will threaten you with immediate arrest, attempt to keep you on the line until payment is made and may become rude or aggressive.
“Taxpayers should be wary of any unexpected phone call, text message or email claiming to be from the tax office. While we may contact you in these ways, if it doesn’t seem right, independently find our phone number and check if the contact was legitimate.”
The ATO has received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams so far in 2019 with just over $1 million in losses.