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  • January 2020 ATO impersonation scam report

    In the January 2020 ATO impersonation scam report:

    • 483 scam reports were recorded via our dedicated phone line
    • we received 610 online scam reports
    • 1,041 phishing scam emails were reported to
    • $9,833 was reported as being paid to scammers
      • Western Union recorded the highest amount paid – $7,273
      • bank transfers netted scammers $1,260
      • cardless cash accounted for $1,000
    • 84 clients provided scammers with sensitive personal identifying information (PII) in January . 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: Monthly comparison of reported ATO impersonation scams.

    Chart 1 shows a comparison between email, phone and online reports received each month to date in 2019 and 2020.
Number of emails reported: 
February 647; March  672; April 669; May 1.279; June 498; July 475; August 523; September 525; October 1,769; November 1,241; December 410; January 2020 -  2,114.
Number of phone calls reported: February 9,342; March  7,646; April 8,342; May 6,771; June 6,444; July 6,645; August 6,510; September 4,059; October 828; November 723; December 418; January 2020 - 483.
Number of Online reports received: 
July 6,179; August 5,080; September 3,620; October 750; November 635; December 327; January 2020 - 610.

    Delivery methods

    Chart 2: Reported ATO impersonation scammer delivery methods, January 2020.

    Chart 2 shows a comparison between the most popular channels scammers used to contact people in January 2020. Of those, reported phone calls or voice messages accounted for 54%, email accounted for 33%, and SMS accounted for 13%.

    Payment methods

    Chart 3: ATO impersonation scammer payment methods, January 2020.

    Chart 3 shows the total amount paid, method of payment and number of people who paid scammers in December 2019.
1 paid $1,260 into Bank transfer; 2 paid $1,000 via Cardless cash; 1 paid $300 via a Gift card; 2 paid $7,273 via Western Union.

    See also:

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

    What we're doing

    We alerted the community to scammers texting people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a refund. The link directed them to a fake myGov website and asked for their bank details and other personal information for 'verification purposes'.

    To make the text message seem like it came from us, scammers used technology that caused it to appear in genuine ATO message feeds.

    We will never send an email or text message asking you to access online services via a hyperlink. Also, we will never ask you to provide personal identifying information to receive a refund from us.

    Always access online government services independently, never via hyperlinks. You should activate two-factor authentication on your account for added security where available.

    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: 03 Mar 2020QC 61588