It appears as though scammers are doing the rounds again, pretending to be the ATO and telling victims they have committed fraud against the tax office. Receiving these types of phone calls can be quite upsetting and stressful, however our advice is that you should hang up and ignore it.
Some of the tell-tale signs that it is a scam call, and not the ATO include:
the use of aggressive or rude behaviour;
threatening that you will be arrested or police are on their way to your address;
the caller will not provide you with explanations or let you speak to another manager in charge;
demanding you pay outstanding debts via the use of pre-paid cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit into a bank account of which they provide details for; and
demanding you pay a fee to release tax refunds owed to you.
The primary goal of a scammer is to build pressure and stress in the call, in an attempt to create an urgency for payments to be made or personal details released. Upon receiving such personal information, they can use it to take advantage of you and in some (most) cases, exploit your personal bank accounts. Anyone can be a target for these types of phone calls, and we have had a number of both clients and staff experience these recently. If you do happen to receive one of these calls, some tips to keep in mind such that you do not fall victim to a scammer include:
know your taxation affairs;
Guard your personal and financial information, and do not hand these out to anyone you do not know or trust;
Speak to your accountant about the call (scam); and
Report the scam to the ATO’s dedicated scams line 1800 005 540.
The ATO’s website lists a range of previously reported scams and examples if you would like more information.
Keep in mind, the ATO will never act in such a harsh, direct and aggressive manner – especially on a first instance phone call/email/text engagement. If you are ever unsure, please call your accountant at Hoffman Kelly to discuss.