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  • Scam alerts

    This page provides examples of recent ATO impersonation scams.

    You can stay up to date on the latest scam alerts by subscribing to our General email updates. You will also receive updates on all new general content on our website.

    If you think a phone call, SMS, voicemail or email claiming to be from us is not genuine, do not reply to it. Instead you should either:

    On this page:

    Latest scam alerts

    August 2021 phone scam – new payment methods

    We're receiving reports of scammers demanding money by new methods.

    This includes things like:

    • ‘cardless cash’ ATM withdrawals
    • retail gift cards, such as JB hi-fi, Myer and Woolworths
    • courier services who collect the cash payments
    • cash delivery made in person at a pre-determined public location.

    Scammers are trying to trick people into making payments by pretending to be from the ATO and other agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police.

    They might tell you that your TFN has been suspended or compromised due to money laundering or other illegal activity, or that you owe a debt.

    The real ATO will never demand payment by these methods. You should always check legitimate ways to pay a tax debt on our website before making a payment.

    If you have paid money to a scammer through one of the methods listed above or are concerned about your personal safety, report it to your local police straight away and specify all the details.

    We also strongly encourage you to contact your financial institution immediately. In some cases, they may be able to stop a transaction or close your account if the scammer has your account details.

    And remember, if you’re ever unsure whether an ATO contact is genuine, hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    See also:

    May 2021 email scam – update your myGovID details

    We’re receiving reports of a new email scam that asks people to update their myGov or myGovID details.

    Scammers pretending to be from the ‘myGov customer care team’ are sending emails telling people they need to verify their identity by clicking on a link.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take.

     Scam alert - update your myGovID details

    Don’t click any links and don’t provide the information requested.

    The link goes to a fake myGov logon page designed to steal your personal information, including your passport and driver’s licence details.

    You will get email or SMS notifications from myGov whenever there are new messages in your myGov Inbox. However, these messages will never include a link to log on to your myGov account. Always access our online services directly via one of the following:

    • my.gov.au
    • ato.gov.au
    • the ATO app.

    When downloading the myGovID app, make sure it's from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

    If you receive an SMS or email that looks like it’s from myGov, but it contains a link or appears suspicious, you can report it to ScamWatchExternal Link. If you have clicked on a link or provided your personal information, you can contact Services Australia’s Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk on 1800 941 126.

    See also:

    February 2021 phone scam – suspended TFN

    We are receiving increasing reports of people losing money to automated phone scams.

    Scammers pretending to be from the ATO tell people their tax file number (TFN) has either been:

    • suspended due to illegal activity
    • compromised by a scammer.

    They request the call recipient either pay a fine to release their TFN or transfer all bank funds into a holding account to protect it from future misuse.

    We:

    • do not suspend TFNs
    • will never request you pay a fine or transfer money in order to protect your TFN pending legal action.

    Phone calls from us do not show a number on caller ID. We will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.

    If you receive a phone call like this, hang up and do not provide the information requested.

    If you’re unsure whether an ATO contact is genuine, phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    An example of this type of scam is available below:

    See also:

    October 2020 email scam – JobKeeper and backing business investment claims

    We are receiving reports of email scams about claims for JobKeeper and Backing Business Investment. The fake emails say we are investigating your claims. They ask you to provide valuable personal information, including copies of your driver’s licence and Medicare card.

    The image below is one example of an email scam currently circulating.

    Do not provide the information requested, do not click on any links and delete the email straight away.

    scam alert - coronavirus jobkeeper payments

    If you receive a message from the ATO asking for your personal information, phone us on 1800 008 540 to make sure it's legitimate. If you think it's fraudulent, report it by sending an email to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.

    You should never give out your personal information unless you are sure of who you are dealing with.

    See also:

    September 2020 phone and SMS scams – fake tax debt

    We are concerned about the increasing number of people paying fake tax debt scammers.

    Scammers pretending to be from the ATO are contacting members of the community, telling them that they have a tax debt and that if they do not pay it straight away they will be arrested.

    These scammers will often request payment through unusual methods, such as cryptocurrency, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards. They will try to keep people on the line until they have paid.

    If you receive a phone call, text message or voicemail like this, don't send payment or provide any personal information. Hang up and delete the message.

    We will never:

    • threaten you with immediate arrest
    • demand payment through unusual methods.

    If you are not sure if it's the ATO contacting you, phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    It's also a good idea to know your tax affairs. You can:

    • log in to ATO online services through myGov to check your individual tax affairs
    • log in to Online services for business to check your business tax affairs
    • contact your tax or BAS agent
    • contact us.

    See also:

    July 2020 SMS and email scams – verify your myGov details

    We are receiving increasing reports of several myGov-related SMS and email scams. These scams look like they have come from a myGov or ATO email address. They also might appear in your legitimate ATO or myGov SMS message thread.

    The image below is one example of an SMS scam currently circulating.

    Don’t click any links and don’t provide the information requested.

    Image of the word Scam advising to log into your account to verify details to ensure your account is secure. Do this via bit.ly/myGovhelp within 24 hours or account will be locked.

    You will get email or SMS notifications from myGov when there are new messages in your myGov Inbox. However, these messages will never include a link to log on to your myGov account. Always access our online services directly via one of the following:

    • my.gov.au
    • ato.gov.au
    • the ATO app.

    All online management of your personal tax affairs should be done in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Any communications containing your personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN), will be sent to your myGov Inbox, not your email account.

    You can make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    If you receive an SMS or email from the ATO that you think is fraudulent, report it by sending an email to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.

    If you receive an SMS or email that looks like it’s from myGov but it contains a link or appears suspicious, email reportascam@servicesaustralia.gov.au.

    If you have clicked on a link or provided your personal information, contact Services Australia on 1800 941 126.

    See also:

    June 2020 phone scam – threatening arrest and requesting personal details

    We are receiving reports of scammers sending members of the public automated phone calls pretending to be from the ATO, as well as other government agencies including Services Australia and the Department of Legal Services.

    These automated calls claim their TFN has been suspended and that there is a legal case against their name. The call tells people they must contact the caller by pressing '1' or they will be referred to the court and arrested.

    If the person presses '1' and makes contact with the scammer they are typically told that their TFN had been suspended due to money laundering or other suspicious or fraudulent activity and that there are several allegations against them. They are then asked to provide:

    • the last four digits of their TFN
    • their address
    • their date of birth
    • the name of their bank account
    • the approximate amount of money in the account/s.

    Sometimes the scammer will ‘transfer’ the victim to the ‘police’ where they're told a case has been filed against them and they will be arrested unless they pay.

    Sometimes they advise the victim will receive mail to their home or that their bank accounts will be closed.

    If you receive this call, hang up and do not provide the information requested. We will never:

    • send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone
    • threaten you with immediate arrest.

    If you are not sure whether an ATO call is legitimate, hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    See also:

    May 2020 phone scam – requesting bank account details for the JobKeeper payment

    We are receiving reports of scammers pretending to be from the ATO calling members of the public and asking them to provide their bank account details. They are telling them that:

    • their employer has registered them for the JobKeeper Payment
    • we need their bank account details to deposit the funds into their account.

    Do not provide the information requested. Employees that are eligible for JobKeeper payments will be paid by their employer and the ATO will reimburse their employer for these payments. We do not need the bank account details of individual employees.

    If you are not sure whether an ATO call is legitimate, hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    See also:

    March 2020 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are texting people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a refund.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. The link in this scam will take you to a fake myGov website.

    The website is a phishing page and is being used to harvest user credentials. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam text message: 'You are due to receive an ATO refund of $1786.51. Visit https://ato.gov.au.txreturn.info/ and complete security check to claim refund.'

    We will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    If you use ATO online services for individuals and sole traders, all online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    Make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    See also:

    Previous scam alerts

    February 2020 SMS scam – 8% bonus for people affected by natural disasters

    Scammers are exploiting Australia's recent natural disasters in an SMS scam that is asking people to click on a link and provide personal information in order to receive an 8% bonus on their tax return.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take.

    The link will take you to a fake myGov website, designed to steal your personal information. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam text message: 'Due to natural distasters, Australians are entitled to an 8% bonus on their tax return. Please begin the process by filling out the form below. Link: https://my.gov.verification-digital.com

    We will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    We will never ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    You can make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    When disasters like the recent bushfires strike, scammers will often try to take advantage of vulnerable Australians.

    We do what we can to stop scammers in their tracks, but it’s important to stay vigilant and warn your family and friends.

    See also:

    January 2020 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Similar to the alert we issued in August, scammers are texting people asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a refund.

    To make the text messages seem more legitimate, scammers are using technology that causes them to appear in your genuine ATO message feed.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. The link in this scam will take you to a fake myGov website.

    The website asks users to provide their bank details, along with other personal identifying information, for ‘verification purposes’. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam. We've noticed you have a positive balance 320.70AUD from last finacial years. Please verify your information to recieve the funds myatoservice.com/3/?ID=

    We will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    If you haven’t already, make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    We've initiated disruption activity to protect the community from this scam, but it's a good idea to encourage your friends and family to keep an eye out. This is particularly important in the current environment, as scams often spike when people are most vulnerable.

    See also:

    October 2019 SMS scam – 'update your details' request

    Scammers are sending text messages to people, asking them to click on a link to update their details in myGov.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. If you click on the link in this scam, it will take you to a fake myGov impersonation website.

    Image of a scam text message, which says 'SCAM. Last warning to update your details' with a link to 'https://taxau.info/?resolveID_471 2'

    The website instructs users to login to what looks like their myGov account. It then asks them to update their bank and credit card details. Do not click on these links and do not disclose the information requested.

    We will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    Make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    See also:

    August 2019 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are sending text messages to people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a tax refund.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. If you click on the link in this scam, it will take you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form. The aim of this is to steal your personal information.

    Image of a scam text message, which says 'You are due to receive an ATO DIRECT refund of $2675.51. Visit www.ato.direct and logon with your phone number and ATO PIN to claim'.

    To make the message appear real, scammers may use technology that makes it appear in your legitimate ATO message feed.

    We do not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form or website and we will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    Managing your tax affairs online should always be done in ATO online services via your genuine myGov account. You can make this more secure by updating your sign-in options at my.gov.au – so you receive a code by SMS when signing in.

    See also:

    June 2019 – fake tax debt scam via WhatsApp

    There has been an increase in scammers using WhatsApp to impersonate the ATO. Current reports indicate the scam is the latest twist to the fake tax debt scam where scammers issue a pre-recorded voice message to your phone demanding immediate payment of a tax debt and threatening immediate arrest. In addition to requesting payment via unusual methods, the scammers may also ask call recipients to send a photo of their driver’s licence, passport or other identity credential via WhatsApp. This may result in far reaching identity compromise for victims.

    WhatsApp logo

    We do not have a profile on WhatsApp and will never engage with you on this platform.

    Never give out any sensitive personal identifying information unless you can independently verify the identity of the person or organisation you are providing it to.

    Know your tax affairs – you can log into ATO online services through myGov to check your tax affairs at any time, or you can contact your tax agent or the ATO via an independently sourced number.

    Cyber criminals can also use vulnerabilities in apps such as WhatsApp to access your phone or device. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is currently advising users of WhatsApp to update your app to apply the latest security updates and set your phone and devices to auto update.

    If you receive an ATO impersonation scam phone call or text message, and have not paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you can report the scam online.

    Scam victims who have paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer can call us on 1800 008 540. This number can also be used to verify if an interaction with the ATO is legitimate.

    See also:

    • Verify or report a scam to know more about the tricks scammers use.

    May 2019 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are texting people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a tax refund. The image below is one example format this scam can take. If you click on the link it will take you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form in order to steal your personal information.

    In an effort to make the text appear real scammers use technology that makes their message appear in your legitimate ATO message feed. Remember to always exercise caution when clicking links or opening attachments in emails or SMS even if they are from someone you know.

    Text message from ‘ATO Reclaim’ saying there’s a tax refund of $2675.41 for you to claim. All you need to do is click on the website link and log on with your phone number and the ATO PIN to claim.

    We do not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form and we will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services accessed via your genuine myGov account. Make accessing ATO online services via your myGov account more secure. Update your sign-in options at my.gov.au so you receive a code by SMS when signing in.

    See also:

    Last modified: 23 Aug 2021QC 53447