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Types of scams to avoid

With tax time fast approaching, criminals may attempt to take advantage of the end of the financial year to gain access to individuals’ and businesses’ money and information. In 2019, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) received over 107,000 reports of scams, with $2.1 million reported lost. Here are two main types of scams that involve criminals impersonating the ATO.

Tax refund scams

Scammers contact you claiming that you’re owed a tax refund, and that they need your personal details and a processing fee to release your funds.

Tax owed scams

Scammers contact you claiming that you have a tax debt, and demanding that you pay the debt to avoid being arrested. They may ask you to pay by credit card, with a money transfer, with gift cards, or using a pre-paid debit card.

Tips to avoid tax time fraud

Here are our tips to help keep you, your family and friends safe this tax time.

Tips for email and text scams

If you receive an email or text message claiming to be from the ATO asking for personal or financial information, do not respond.

Think before you click or give out any information. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking links in unsolicited emails or suspicious text messages.

Tips for phone call scams

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the ATO stating that you’re due a refund, threatening you with immediate arrest or stating that you must pay money to receive a tax refund, hang up.

If you receive a call asking for personal or banking information, hang up and call the organisation back using a publicly listed number. For example, NAB’s number is on our website and on the back of NAB cards.

Get a second opinion

It’s important to talk to your family about these scams. Tell them to ‘ask out loud’ for a second opinion from a friend or family member if someone contacts them unexpectedly asking for information.

Know the ATO

Remember that the ATO will never:

  • Ask you to pay your tax debt into a non-ATO bank account, via pre-paid cards, or with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
  • Threaten you with an immediate arrest.
  • Ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a refund.
  • Ask you for personal information such as your Tax File Number (TFN) or credit card number via email or SMS.
  • Ask you to download files from the Internet or open attachments in an unsolicited email.

If you’re concerned or uncertain about the authenticity of a call or message claiming to come from the ATO, hang up, and call them back on 1800 008 540.

For more information on how to protect yourself online at tax time, visit the ATO website.

Helpful resources

How to identify spam and phishing messages

Be on the lookout for suspicious messages and avoid being a target of cyber-criminals.

How to spot scam phone calls

Learn how to recognise scam calls and keep your details safe when on the phone.

Protect your business from card fraud and payment scams

Learn about card and payment fraud and simple steps you can take to protect your business.

How to protect your website from being compromised

Learn how to protect your website against online attacks.