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  • Verify or report a scam

    Scams are designed to trick you into paying money or giving out your personal information.

    On this page:

    See also:

    • Our Scam alert page provides information on the latest ATO impersonation scams

    Verify or report an ATO impersonation scam

    Contact us

    If you are in doubt about an interaction you have had with someone claiming to be from the ATO, or you think you have fallen victim to an ATO Impersonation scam, you can call us on 1800 008 540 between 8:00am–6:00pm Monday to Friday to verify.

    If you have provided your tax file number (TFN) to someone who should not have it, or you suspect someone is misusing your TFN, phone our Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033 so we can discuss the best way to protect your tax account.

    If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the ATO:

    • do not click on any links, open attachments or respond
    • forward the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au
    • delete any record of the scam email from your account.

    Who else to notify

    If you have made a payment to an ATO impersonation scammer, make an official report to your local police.

    Contact your bank or financial institution if you have given your credit card or bank details to someone who shouldn't have them.

    Report other scams, suspicious schemes or consumer fraud to SCAMwatchExternal Link

    If you have been affected by online cyber-crime you can report to Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN)External Link.

    Spotting scams

    Suspicious signs

    If someone contacts you claiming to be from the ATO, there are some tell-tale signs you can look for:

    Abusive or threatening

    We will not act in an abusive or offensive manner or threaten you with immediate arrest.

    Immediate payment

    We will:

    • not ask you to transfer money into an account with a BSB that is not held with the Reserve Bank of Australia
    • not ask for payment through unusual methods such as iTunes gift cards or other prepaid cards
    • not ask you for money in order to receive a refund or other payment
    • not stay on the phone with you while you go to the bank, post office, or shops to make a payment.

    We will inform you about your tax debt before it is due. You can also check if you owe us money through your myGov account, your tax agent, or by phoning us.

    We provide you with a range of legitimate payment options on our website if you have a tax debt.

    Contact by email, text messages or social media

    We won't use email, text messages or social media to ask you to:

    • update or provide personal information, supply your TFN, credit card or bank details
    • send you downloadable files or tell you to install software.

    We will use email and text messages asking to you to contact us by phone in order to:

    • provide additional information for a BAS or GST enquiry, tax return or an application you have lodged
    • verify changes to an account.

    We use general notifications, promotional information and reminders by text messages, social media and email. You can check our current ATO text and email activities on our website.

    Too good to be true

    Offers to ‘unlock’ your super early, or investments where you need to act quickly before an offer ends, are signs that an investment may not be legitimate. Always check the details of these schemes with your registered financial advisor or someone you trust. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

    Scamming methods

    Some ways scammers can tricky you are by:

    • using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone numbers to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world
    • spoofing phone numbers to make phone calls and text messages appear to come from Australia
    • sending pre-recorded voice messages (robocalls) to large numbers of people asking for an immediate call back
    • sending copycat emails with attachments or links that
      • take you to fake login screens or web pages to trick you to downloading malicious software or giving them your personal information
      • contain programs that record your computer key strokes to get your personal information or login credentials
    • sending ransomware (malicious software) that stops your computer working until you pay a fee – often by Bitcoin
    • spoofing websites or login pages to get your personal information
    • accessing your public profile on social media to learn about you so they can meet proof of record ownership or break your passwords.

    See also:

    • Our Scam alert page provides information on the latest ATO impersonation scams

    Ways scammers may contact you

    A scammer may contact you:

    See also:

    • Our Scam alert page provides information on the latest ATO impersonation scams

    By phone

    From time to time we may contact you by phone, but you should be wary of unexpected phone calls claiming to be from us.

    Scammers are impersonating the ATO or pretending to be from a government organisation representing the ATO demanding payment for a fake tax debt.

    These scammers often:

    • hold enough information about you to appear genuine
    • use a spoofed Australian phone number visible on caller ID
    • leave a pre-recorded voicemail message asking for an immediate call back
    • ask you to call back to a phone number that is not listed on our Phone us page
    • accuse you of tax fraud and call you a criminal
    • use legal references to sound more professional and to intimidate you
    • threaten you with actions like arrest, physical harm, deportation, placing your children into government care, public disclosure and court action
    • instruct you to not tell anyone about the call or to destroy records of financial transactions or fax details through as proof of payment
    • use unprofessional or abusive language
    • ask you to purchase prepaid visa or store cards, iTunes cards, or pay by money transfers or cash deposits into a personal bank account.

    By email

    Email scams are getting harder to spot – just like people who counterfeit money or luxury goods, scammers copy genuine emails. Email scams often:

    • look like they come from us with an email domain that makes reference to the ATO (such as info@ato.com.au). Our domain is @ato.gov.au
    • look real as they contain ATO or myGov logos
    • use the same topics and timing as our emails (such as tax or BAS lodgment time)
    • don’t address you by name
    • have bad grammar and graphics and have spelling mistakes
    • ask you to pay a fee for the release of a refund.

    If you receive a scam email like this, do not click on any links, attempt to open the attachment, download any files or install applications, as they may install a virus on your computer.

    Forward the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au without changing or adding any additional information and then delete all copies from your email account. We investigate all submissions made to this mailbox, however in order for us to act promptly we do not respond individually to any emails sent to this address.

    If you provide personal information including your TFN to a scammer or click links in scam emails, contact us on 1800 008 540, as soon as practicable.

    By text message

    These scams often:

    • appear to come from the ATO
    • contain hyperlinks that lead you to a fake website or to a fake log on page
    • ask you to call back to a phone number that is not listed on our Phone us page
    • tell you that you are eligible for a refund and you need to respond
    • instruct you to click on a link to submit a form with personal information.

    We may send you a text message, but we will never ask for personal information including your TFN or credit card details.

    Using social media

    Australians are encountering increase financial losses due to scams on social media. Perpetrators pretend to be real people who may befriend you to build trust or advertise fake sales pages to draw your attention. Check your social media platform's Help Centre for tips on how to protect you.

    We are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but we will never use these to ask you for personal identifiable information or your TFN.

    If you use our social media to ask us a question, don't include any personal information or your TFN.

    Door-to-door

    If we visit you, we will always pre-arrange an appointment. If you are not sure about the identity of someone claiming to be from the ATO, phone us on 1800 008 540 between 8:00am–6:00pm Monday to Friday.

    Dishonest door knockers may:

    • try to get your personal information, such as your TFN, birth certificate, passport or drivers licence
    • take photos of your personal information
    • offer free education often including cash or gifts. (Always check with the education provider using a number for them in the white pages or on their webpage).

    If you fear for your safety immediately call your local police.

    Through a job application

    Do not provide your TFN when applying for a job. You only need to supply your TFN after you have started work and always use the TFN declaration form to do this.

    If you see a job advertisement asking to provide your TFN up-front, it's probably a scam to steal your personal and financial information. We have seen them in emails, on noticeboards, and on social media and job recruitment websites.

    Why scammers scam

    Scammers and malicious actors continually adapt their activities and use technological advancements to help them to mimic our interactions.

    They have two main objectives – to get you to:

    • pay money
    • divulge personal information or credentials.

    Once scammers or malicious actors have your personal identifiable information, they may use it to commit identity fraud and crimes such as:

    • accessing your bank accounts
    • taking out loans in your name
    • lodging false tax returns or BAS statements
    • claiming Centrelink or other government benefits
    • accessing your client or employee records
    • gaining access to your superannuation.

    See also:

    Last modified: 29 Nov 2017QC 40945