Its tax season, money is in the air, and scammers are on the prowl.
This time of the year gives scammers the perfect opportunity to target vulnerable (and even not so vulnerable) Australians. By impersonating the ATO (Australian Tax Office) scammers will attempt to get you to part with your hard-earned dollars, personal information and financial information through money-related threats and promises. They do this either through the threat of arrest for unpaid taxes, or through the offer of a tax rebate for paying too much tax. We know what you’re thinking, “surely nobody falls for this stuff?" Well, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s latest report, Australians lost a total of $489m to scammers in 2018 alone, which is 44% higher than 2017 showing that scams on the general public are becoming more common and more detrimental.
So how do you stay safe from scammers this tax season?
- Always be suspicious: If it sounds too good to be true, we’re sorry but it most likely is!
- Keep an eye out for scams in the news: A wise man once said, “the more you know, the less you fear” and how very true in the case of scams. We’d recommend visiting Scamwatch.gov.au, it’s a great website to stay in the know of any new scams coming to surface. You can even subscribe for email alerts on the latest scam news.
- Don’t be afraid to go straight to the source: if you do receive a suspicious phone call claiming to be from the ATO, go to the ATO directly. That way, you can be confident they are (or are not) who they claim to be. It’s also important to remember, the ATO will never demand immediate payment of debt or use aggressive or threatening behaviour over the telephone.
We know tax season can be a stressful time and it can be hard to keep your wits about you, so if you think you have been the victim of a scam: be sure to report it to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission as soon as possible, inform your financial institution and be sure to warn your friends and family.