ATO warns business about increased scams

09 May 2022

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has advised businesses and individuals to be aware of an increase in fake websites offering tax file numbers (TFNs) and Australian business numbers (ABNs).

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The fake services often appear on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, offering to obtain TFN or ABN for a fee.

Instead of delivering this service, the scammers use these fraudulent websites to steal money and personal information.

In 2021, more than 50,000 people reported ATO impersonation scams with victims losing about $800,000.

The ATO says it is still seeing scammers impersonating the tax office, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said: “Scammers are constantly developing new ways to target the community, and we expect to see more of these malicious attempts to steal identity details in the lead up to tax time.”

“We are encouraging everyone to be on alert and take the time to remind family and friends to be on the lookout and stay safe online, so you don’t fall victim to a scam this tax time.”

ATO’s tips to avoid falling for scams

  • Know your tax affairs: You will be notified about your tax debt before it is due, however you can check if you have a legitimate debt owed by logging into your myGov account. Use an independent search or access it through your tax agent if you have one.
  • Guard your personal and financial information: Always ensure you are careful when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments. Only give your personal information to people you trust and never share it on social media.
  • If you are unsure, don’t engage: Don’t reply at a call, SMS or email unless you are sure it’s genuine. Instead, phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line (1800 008 540) to check its legitimacy.
  • Know legitimate way to make payments: Scammers may use threatening tactics to trick their victims into paying fake debts via unusual methods, such as through pre-paid gift cards or transfers to non-ATO bank accounts. To check if a payment is legitimate, visit ato.gov.au/howtopay
  • Talk to your family and friends about scams: If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax related scam, call the ATO as soon as you can.

How we can help

The Victorian Chamber is hosting a webinar in partnership with Westpac on 10 May to help business protect themselves against scams and fraud.

For more information and to register for this free webinar, click here.

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