Australians urged to think twice before being duped out of the blue to pay tax debts.
Australians urged to think twice before being duped out of the blue to pay tax debts.

New scams catching out innocent Australians

Fake tax debts are the latest scams fraudsters are using to dupe innocent Australians into handing over their hard-earned money.

Popular chat service WhatsApp and banks' ATM cardless cash functions are the new methods scammers are using to catch out unsuspecting victims.

And in a worst-case scenario one victim was fooled into handing over more than $50,000.

The Australian Taxation Office said fraudsters are optimising the busy Christmas period and tax payment deadline dates to coerce people into dishing out cash.

New ATO data found in the three month period from November last year to January this year, Australians lost around $2 million to these types of scams.

The figures showed 622 Australians where tricked into handing over their money because they thought they were repaying a legitimate tax debt.

The average amount lost was about $3380.

The ATO's assistant commissioner Karen Foat said now was one of the peak times of year tax payments were due, prompting scammers to pounce.

"Scammers are always changing their tactics and this time of year is when people who are expecting debt that needs to paid around this time of year," she said.

"That means people might be more likely to fall for a scam.

"Everyone is really busy at this time of the year and they might not be taking us much time as they otherwise would to check contact is legitimate."

One victim was fooled into handing over more than $50,000.
One victim was fooled into handing over more than $50,000.

Scammers impersonating the ATO are using methods including phone, email, SMS and messaging through WhatsApp.

Ms Foat said they also used the cardless cash feature offered by some major banks, whereby the scammers calls the victim and asks them to sign up for cardless cash.

The scammer then asks the victim to get a code on their phone, read it out to the scammer then the scammer goes to an ATM enters the code and withdraws cash from the victim's bank account.

H & R Block director of communications Mark Chapman warned Australians of anybody "calling you chasing a tax debt and wanting you to make a payment".

"Take some background information on the person calling you and call the ATO and verify that this person is a genuine tax officer," he said.

"If they are asking you to make payments via any unconventional means, whether that's by Western Union, gift cards or iTunes, anything that seems strange the simple fact is that ATO would never do that."

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth

 

TAX TIPS

• The ATO will never use aggressive or rude behaviour.

• The ATO will always ring from a private number.

• Payment is never requested via cardless cash, gift cards.

• Hyperlinks are not sent via email or SMS requesting you to log on to MyGov.

• If unsure hang up and ring the ATM's scam line on 1800 008 540.



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