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  • Scam alerts

    Verify or report a scam explains how to spot and report a scam. If you are in doubt about contact with someone claiming to be from the ATO, you can phone us on 1800 008 540, 8.00am–6.00pm Monday to Friday to check.

    Keep informed on new Scam alerts by subscribing to general email updates. Subscribers will receive updates on all new general content on our website, including the latest scam alerts.

    October 2017 Phone scam – fake debts

    Scammers are continuing to contact members of the public to say they have a tax debt and must pay immediately.

    A common example reported by the community in October:

    John (not his real name) was contacted by phone and accused of committing tax evasion following a tax audit from the last five years. John was advised he had a $3,000 debt and was to purchase two iTunes gift cards before an ATO representative would be in touch with the next steps. He was advised that if he didn't pay this debt, the police would become involved and court action may be taken. John spoke to two different people who provided reference number WX2754.

    • The call may be a male or female robotic voice recording – note that the ATO does not use recorded messages or robocalls to contact members of the public.
    • The caller will claim to be from or representing the ATO, often the ATO Tax Crime and Investigation Unit or the AFP. The most common names scammers are using in October are:
      • James Anderson
      • Matthew Clark
      • Paul Adams
      • Alexander Lee
      • John Peterson
      • David, James or Mark Brown
      • Paul or William Smith.
       
    • They will tell you that a complaint has been made against you and you are committing tax fraud or claim that you have to pay a debt that you know nothing about.
    • They may threaten immediate arrest or court if you don't pay straight away. They won't provide explanations or allow you to ask questions about the debt and often get aggressive or abusive.
    • They will ask you to pay using a payment method not accepted by the ATO such as iTunes, store gift cards, Bitcoin or pre-paid visa cards. Scammers often claim these methods of payment are ‘Electronic Federal Tax Refund System (EFTRS)’ government payments, which is false.
    • They may provide you a number to call them on that is not a number from our Phone us page – the top five phone numbers scammers are asking people to phone in October are
      • 02 8006 1429
      • 02 8006 9496
      • 08 7100 1136
      • 02 6100 3014
      • 02 8005 1164
       

    It's OK to hang up. Phone us on 1800 008 540 to see if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.

    See also:

    September 2017 Email scam – refund

    Scammers are emailing people to tell them to claim their tax refund online.

    An example of the September 2017 Email scam (credit card refund). It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam email.

    The email:

    • is not from a correct ATO email address:
      • ATOep152@ref2.case927349.review is a scammer
      • atogovau@ato.gov.com is a scammer
       
    • does not address you by name
    • offers you money you weren't expecting
      • you may not have done your tax return yet
      • you may have already received your refund
       
    • asks you to download a form.

    Note: The following ATO email addresses are legitimate:

    • noreply@ato.gov.au
    • noreplyCAS@ato.gov.au
    • no_replySBIT@ato.gov.au

    The attached refund form contains malicious software. Forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au and then delete it.

    See also:

    August 2017 Scam – Tax return form

    Scammers are circulating an online form claiming to be the ATO's online Tax return form. If you come across a form such as this, it is a scam.

    An example of the August 2017 Tax return form scam. It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam form.

    This form:

    • is on a scammer's website – it isn't on ato.gov.au and it doesn't use https
    • is called a Tax return form, but we don't have a form with that name
    • asks for your personal information such as your place and date of birth
    • asks you to lodge your tax return in a non-legitimate electronic way – we use myTax, which you accessed through myGov.

    Forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au and then delete it.

    See also:

    July 2017 Email scam – tax repayment

    Scammers are emailing people to tell them that they can claim a tax repayment or tax return online.

    An example of the July 2017 Tax return scam email. It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam email.

    This email:

    • is not from a legitimate @ato.gov.au sender
    • does not address you by name
    • contains a spelling mistake – 'ammount'
    • creates false urgency to respond
    • asks you to click a link to 'Claim online', but when you hover on the link it shows a web address that
      • does not use HTTPS
      • uses link shortcuts ow.ly or bit.ly
       
    • offers a delivery method of 'Electronically by card', but we only pay refunds by cheque or into an Australian bank account.

    The download could be phishing for your private information or contain malicious software. Forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au and then delete it.

    See also:

    March 2017 Email Scam – online activity statement

    Scammers are emailing people to tell them that they can download their online activity statement.

    An example of the March 2017 online activity scam email. It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam email.

    This scam email:

    • is not from a legitimate @ato.gov.au sender, even though the sender, @atogovau.org, may look similar at first
    • doesn't include your business ABN or name
    • contains bad grammar
    • asks you to click on an active link and when hovering over it does not lead to an ato.gov.au address
    • is unexpected
    • asks you to use a non-legitimate electronic method to manage your account – you can manage your activity statement online using myGov.

    Forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au and then delete it.

    See also:

    Last modified: 29 Nov 2017QC 53447