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  • January 2019 ATO impersonation scam report

    In the January 2019 ATO impersonation scam report:

    • 23,237 phone scam reports were officially recorded this month, a decrease of over 2,000 reports from December 2018.
    • 334 phishing scam emails were reported to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.
    • $497,216 was reported as being paid to scammers, over $45,000 less than December 2018. Payments via Google Play, iTunes and Bitcoin continue to account for the majority of losses equating to 83% of the total amount paid.
    • Clients who provided scammers with their personal identifying information (PII) totalled 55% which is similar to December 2018.

    See also:

    Monthly comparison

    Chart 1 shows a comparison between email and phone reports received each month to date in 2018 and 2019  The number of emails reported: February 1,362; March 3,850; April 1,568; May1,349; June 1,268, July 1,135, August 686, September 1,954, October 1,312; November 1,276, December 1,625; January 2019 - 987 . The number of phone calls reported: February 1,718; March 2,101; April 1,809; May 1,132; June 2,303, July 2,900, August 3,680, September 6,905; October 9,637; November 37,749; December 25,473; January 2019 - 23,237.

    Delivery methods

    Chart 2 shows a comparison between the most popular channels scammers used to contact people in January 2019. Of those, reported phone calls or voice messages accounted for 98%, email accounted for 1%, and SMS accounted for 1%.

    Payment methods

    Chart 3 shows the total amount paid, method of payment and number of people who paid scammers in January 2019.
6 paid $16,477 into bank accounts
4 paid $2,850 via credit card
13 paid $110,535 via bitcoin 
63 paid $141,386 via iTunes
66 paid $163,698 via Google Play
14 paid $16,130 via a gift card
17 paid $46,140 via a different method

    What we're doing

    Intelligence collected throughout January shows the spike in reporting to the ATO first detected in November 2018 is now trending downward, although the volume of reports overall are still higher than experienced this time last year.

    Recently we issued the New Year, New Scam media release, which focuses on the latest SMS scams which ask taxpayers to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.

    From time to time we may send an SMS requesting information from you however we will ask that you call us rather than click a link. Scammers have been known to use similar techniques therefore we strongly recommend verifying the return number quoted in an SMS via an independent internet search before calling.

    The latest scam alerts provides details on current ATO impersonation scam activity and can assist you in confirming the legitimacy of any communication from us that you were not expecting to receive.

    See also:

    Next step:

    Last modified: 14 Mar 2019QC 58243