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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 from 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.

    Latest alerts:

    May 2018 text message scam - fake tax refund

    May saw a spike in reports of scammers sending scam text messages similar to the example below:

    Text message from ‘ATO Refund’ saying there’s a tax refund of $275 for him to claim. All he needed to do was click on the website link and log in with his phone number and the PIN number provided in the message. He was asked to fill in personal details and provide his Tax File Number (TFN) and credit card number (including the 3 digit code from the back of his card) so his refund could be deposited into his account.

    Example

    George* received a text message from ‘ATO Refund’ saying there’s a tax refund of $275 for him to claim. All he needed to do was click on the website link and log in with his phone number and the PIN number provided in the message. He was asked to fill in personal details and provide his Tax File Number (TFN) and credit card number (including the 3 digit code from the back of his card) so his refund could be deposited into his account. George didn’t have a credit card so he called the ATO to make other arrangements. The ATO operator advised him that the text message was a scam designed to get his information and potentially steal money from his credit card.

    *not his real name

    Another variation of this scam asks for a small fee to be paid via personal credit or debit card in order to receive the refund. Within days of paying the small fee those impacted by the scam see sizable deductions made from their bank accounts.

    These text message scams often:

    • appear to come from the ATO
    • tell you you’re eligible for a refund and you need to respond
    • ask you to pay a fee to receive a refund
    • contain hyperlinks that lead to a fake website or a fake log on page
    • instruct you to click on a link to submit a form with personal information
    • lead to money being stolen from your credit/debit card account
    • ask you to call back to a phone number that is not listed on our Phone us page.

    We will never send a text message:

    • asking for personal information including your TFN or credit card details
    • asking for you to pay a fee for a tax refund

    If you are ever unsure about whether any communication is really from the ATO, call the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540 or visit ato.gov.au/scams.

    March 2018 Phone scam - voicemail

    Scammers are leaving people voicemail messages threatening the recipients with arrest due to an unknown tax debt or suspected tax evasion. The scammers claim to be from the ATO and many threaten that a warrant for the person's arrest will be issued if they do not call the scammer back on the phone number provided.

    Below is a recording of an actual scam voicemail. If you receive a voicemail like this, do not return the call.

    If you are unsure if a phone call or voicemail is from the ATO, call 1800 008 540.

    See also:

    March 2018 Email scam - tax refund review

    Scammers are sending fake ATO emails asking completion of a 'tax refund review' form to receive a refund. The form asks for online banking credentials, credit card numbers and limits, and personal address information. Do not click nor save the attachment as it may download malicious malware onto your computer. Do not disclose the personal information the form is requesting.

    Below is an example of how these emails may appear.

     An example of the March 2018 Email scam (tax refund notification). It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam email.

    This scam email:

    • misleadingly includes the Australian Taxation Office logo
    • does not address the recipient by name
    • is not sent from a legitimate @ato.gov.au sender
    • is unexpected
    • contains poor grammar
    • asks you to click a link that appears to be the ATO website but when hovering over the link it does not lead to an ato.gov.au address.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out via your myGov account. The ATO does not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form.

    See also:

    February 2018 Email scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are emailing people asking them to verify their billing information in order to ‘file’ their tax refund. The image below is one example format this scam can take. Do not click anywhere in the email as it contains a malicious link and will direct you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form in order to steal your personal information.

    Remember to always exercise caution when clicking links or opening attachments in emails.

    An example of the February 2018 Email scam (tax refund notification). It shows the features we describe below when explaining what to look for in a scam email.

    This scam email:

    • misleadingly includes the Australian Taxation Office logo
    • asks you to click a link that appears to be the ATO website but when hovering over the link it does not lead to an ato.gov.au address
    • does not include your name
    • contains poor grammar and spelling
    • is unexpected.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out via your myGov account. The ATO does not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form.

    See also:

    January 2018 Phone scam – fake tax refund

    ATO impersonation scams reported by the community in January 2018 followed a similar trend to scams reported in previous months:

    Example 1 

    Paul1 received a call on his mobile from someone introducing himself as ATO employee Ray Hamilton. He referred to Paul by his first name and advised that he was entitled to a tax refund. To receive such refund Paul was asked to provide his credit card details and confirm his address. Paul provided the information as requested and Ray sent a 6 digit code to his mobile phone to confirm their transaction. When Paul went looking on his statement for the refund he was shocked to find that money had been deducted from his credit card account. Four transactions had been made totalling $1241.00 under the name of a fake insurance company. Paul did not have an official ATO refund due.

    End of example

    1 not his real name

    Know the status of your tax affairs. If you are aware of the details of debts owed, refunds due and lodgments outstanding, you are less likely to fall victim to a scam. You can regularly check your details via myGov or by contacting your registered tax agent.

    The most common names clients said scammers used in January were:

    • John Harris/Peterson
    • Ray Hamilton/Franklin
    • Paul Adams
    • Richard Parker
    • Jordan Jackson

    Scammers may give you a number to call them on that is not a number from our Phone us page. The top five phone numbers scammers asked people to phone them back on in January were:

    • 02 8005 6533
    • 08 7200 7074
    • 02 6100 3019
    • 07 5641 0370
    • 07 5641 0350

    Our clients are telling us they knew it was a scam because:

    • they were asking for credit card details to receive a tax refund
    • the offer seemed to be too good to be true – they were not expecting a refund from the ATO
    • they threatened to arrest me and face court action or deportation
    • they kept asking for money when I know I didn’t have a debt with the tax office
    • the scammer would not let me hang up or disconnect the phone.

    If you are unsure about a request for information or the validity of an ATO interaction, phone the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540 or visit ato.gov.au/scams.

    January 2018 Email scam – tax form

    Scammers are emailing people telling them to complete an online 'tax form'. The image below is one example of the format this scam email can take. Do not click the link as it contains malware. Forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au and then delete it.

    An example of the January 2018 Email scam (tax form). 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 may look similar
    • misleadingly includes the Australian Taxation Office logo
    • doesn't include your 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 online form.

    Remember, all online management of your tax affairs should be carried out via your myGov account.

    See also:

    December 2017 Phone scam – fake debts

    ATO impersonation scams reported by the community in December 2017 showed:

    • Scammers are using reference number TEXAS47623 frequently in conversations
    • Payments via Bitcoin and iTunes continue to be the most popular method for scammers to get money
    • An increase in email scams focused on phishing for taxpayer credentials off sites such as webmail and online banking.

    Common names reported used by scammers:

    • Mark or David Brown
    • Paul Adams or Smith
    • Adam Peterson
    • Richard Barker or Parker
    • Eric Watson
    • Jessica Brown

    Scammers may provide you a number to call them on that is not a number from our Phone us page. Some of the most common phone numbers provided by scammers are:

    • 03 9005 7499
    • 02 6100 8340
    • 02 8003 7228
    • 02 8006 7474
    • 03 9005 7718
    • 02 8005 6533

    Other indicators to identify a scammer:

    • They will tell you 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 call them back or pay straightaway.
    • 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 unusual methods of payment that the ATO does not use such as iTunes, Bitcoin, store gift cards or pre-paid visa cards.
    • They may offer a tax refund but you have to provide a personal credit card number for the funds to be deposited into. They don’t deposit money but instead steal funds from these cards without the knowledge of the cardholder. The ATO does not issue refunds to credit cards.

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

    See also:

    Verify or report a scam for tips on how to spot an ATO impersonation scam

    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.

    This 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: 13 Jun 2018QC 53447