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  • December 2019 ATO impersonation scam report

    In the December 2019 ATO impersonation scam report:

    • 418 phone scam reports were officially recorded, a decrease from November.
    • 327 online scam reports were received
    • 343 phishing scam emails were reported to
    • $9,850 was reported as being paid to scammers
      • gift cards recorded the highest dollar amount paid totalling $4,300
      • bank transfers netted scammers $3,780
      • cardless cash accounted for only $1,400 this month
    • 61 clients provided scammers with sensitive personal identifying information (PII) in December. 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 2018 and 2019.Number of emails reported: January 2019 - 987; February 647; March  672; April 669; May 1.279; June 498; July 475; August 523; September 525; October 1,769; November 1,241; December 327.Number of phone calls reported: January 2019 - 23,237; 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.Number of Online reports received: July 6,179; August 5,080; September 3,620; October 750; November 635; December 410.

    Delivery methods

    Chart 2: Reported ATO impersonation scammer delivery methods, December 2019

    Chart 2 shows a comparison between the most popular channels scammers used to contact people in December 2019. Of those, reported phone calls or voice messages accounted for 67%, email accounted for 30%, and SMS accounted for 3%.

    Payment methods

    Chart 3: ATO impersonation scammer payment methods, December 2019

    Chart 3 shows the total amount paid, method of payment and number of people who paid scammers in December 2019.2 paid $3,780 into bank accounts, 3 paid $1,400 via cardless cash, 1 paid $4,300 via a gift card, 1 paid $100 via credit card.

    See also:

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

    What we're doing

    We issued a media release, Savvy scammers exploiting deadlines to target Aussies, warning the community about scammers taking advantage of tax payment deadlines to scam unsuspecting victims. We posted the media release on the ATO TwitterExternal Link channel and received significant coverage across the media.

    Remember, we will never:

    • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
    • project our number onto your caller ID so people can be sure that if there’s a number on their caller ID, it’s not the ATO calling
    • request payment of a debt via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency, or direct credit to a personal bank account
    • send an email or SMS requesting you click on a hyperlink to log on to government services.

    If you receive a call, email or SMS and are not sure, it's OK to hang up or not respond. Instead, you can phone our dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it was legitimate. You can also report a scam online at a scam.

    See also:

    Next step:

      Last modified: 28 Jan 2020QC 61262