As the end of the financial year approaches, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued a warning about Australian taxation scams that are on the rise.
In the last 12 months, the federal body has discovered 595 websites impersonating its online service and has acted against them.
That is to say, these fake sites that impersonate the taxation department want to steal your passwords, personal information, and identity documents. For instance, your passports and driver licences, say the ATO.
Meanwhile, Australians are bombarded with email and text scams pretending to be from the ATO. And these emails and text scams that on the rise are after your personal details. For example, your bank details, passwords and usernames
Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh reports that since April 2022 they’ve seen more than 360 SMS and email scams leading to fake myGov sign-in pages. Right now, as tax time approaches it is happening a lot more, but “we see many different types of tax and super scams happening year-round, Loh says”
The ATO claims that it’s not just the older generation that are falling victim or who are most susceptible to scams. Over the last few years even younger Australians have been duped by a tax scam.
The most amount of money lost to tax scams, listed by age according to the ATO in 2021:
25 to 34 years – most money lost
18 to 24 years
55 + years – least money lost
In other words, Gen Z and Millennials need to watch themselves too, as they are the ones losing the most money. Loh said, they seem to “fall victim to those that involve fake tax debts or threats about alleged fraud.”
Above all, email and text scams are becoming more sophisticated, and that’s contrary to common perceptions. Loh says, “they are not always full of typos, bad grammar and promises of riches from foreign royalty”.
As a result, the way to spot a scam is different. For instance, now red flags include:
an unsolicited message requesting personal information via a return email or SMS;
an email or SMS with a link to log in to ATO online services
and requests to pay a fee to receive a refund.
It’s a myth that tax time is the only time scams increase says Loh. All year-round scams that are common include tax debt threats, cryptocurrency tax evasion threats and requests to update personal details.
“We see different types of tax and super scams happening year-round.”
Scammers are constantly looking for ways to steal your personal details and financial information, no matter when. But now it’s coming close to tax time, it’s your focus while you lodge your return. So, knowing the scams that are out there is important.
The ATO warns Australians not to engage or reply to any suspicious or unsolicited messages. If concerned about text, or email phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 or a number sourced from its website.