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  • August 2020 ATO impersonation scam report

    In the August 2020 ATO impersonation scam report:

    • 2,613 scam reports were recorded via our dedicated phone line
    • we received 3,023 online scam reports
    • 145 phishing scam emails were reported to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au
    • $227,015 was reported as being paid to scammers
      • iTunes recorded the highest amount paid $62,950
      • Bank transfers netted scammers $62,925
      • Bitcoin earned scammers a combined total of $25,350

    A total of 412 clients provided scammers with sensitive personal identifying information (PII) in August. When a client advises they have provided sensitive PII, we assess potential consequences and apply protective measures to secure their taxation and superannuation accounts where appropriate.

    See also:

    Monthly comparison

    Chart 1 is a comparison between email, phone and online reports received each month. It reads: 
Number of emails reported: 
September 525; October 1,769; November 1,241; December 410; 2020 January 2,114; February 917; March 902; April 796; May 311; June 457; July 458; August 421
Number of phone calls reported: 
September 4,059; October 828; November 723; December 418; 2020 January 483; February 542; March 563; April 309; May 1,617; June 4,467; July 2,175; August 2,613
Number of online reports received: 
September 3,620; October 750; November 635; December 327; 2020 January 610; February 768; March 805; April 346; May 2,061; June 4,134; July 2,394; August 3,023

    Delivery methods

    : Chart 2 comparison between the most popular channels scammers used to contact people in August 2020. Of those, reported phone calls or voice messages accounted for 91%, email accounted for 3%, and text message accounted for 6%.

    Payment methods

    Chart 3 shows the total amount paid, method of payment and number of people who paid scammers in July 2020.
12 paid $62,925 via Bank transfer
7 paid $4,000 via Cardless cash
9 paid $16,900 via a Gift card
3 paid $9,690 via Credit card
18 paid $62,950 via iTunes
2 paid $2,000 via Google Play
2 paid $25,350 via Bitcoin
4 paid $43,200 via method not specified

    See also:

    • How to pay for legitimate ways to pay your tax debt

    What we're doing

    In August we published another scam alert letting the community know of the increasing number of people paying money to scammers for ‘fake tax debts’. Scammers contact you using telephone calls or text messages pretending to be from the ATO. They say you have a tax debt and have to pay it straight away or you will be arrested. These calls and text messages can be quite frightening. This scam is not new however our reports continue to show people are still being tricked into paying large amounts of money to scammers.

    If you receive a call, an email or an SMS and are not sure if it is legitimate, phone our dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check. You can also report a scam online.

    We continue to do what we can to stop scammers, but remember that you can play your part by staying vigilant.

    See also:

    Next step:

    Last modified: 28 Oct 2020QC 64094