• Tax scams decreasing - but be vigilant

    The ATO has seen a huge decrease in the number of reported phone scams in the last month.

    Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said reports of scams have dropped significantly during October.

    'In early October the scam line was receiving over 750 reports a day. In recent weeks numbers have dropped to as low as 30.'

    'This decrease comes in the wake of multiple call centres in India being raided on suspicion of conducting tax scam calls. These call centres were targeting taxpayers in a range of countries, including Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.'

    Mr Whyte said regardless of the reduction, taxpayers should remain vigilant, as recent trends have indicated an increase in fraudulent emails.

    'We know most people are pretty good at catching fraudsters in the act. This is clear from the amount of scams reported to us compared to the number of people handing over money and personal information.

    'But some scam emails can look very convincing. Some even have privacy warnings and other text to make them look more real,' Mr Whyte said.

    'Fraudulent ATO emails often announce you have an unexpected tax refund available or a debt to be paid. They may contain malware and request personal identifying information from you.

    'If you click on links or open attachments in these emails, it may install software that gives scammers access to your computer and potentially your personal information,' Mr Whyte said.

    'The ATO uses a range of complex tools and systems to keep taxpayers’ information safe, but it’s important to note the vital role you play in curbing identity crime by protecting your personal information and knowing a scam when you see one.'

    'We will never send you an unsolicited email requesting you to fill in an attachment with your personal identifying information such as your TFN. Scammers do this in an effort to steal your identity and use it to commit other crimes such as tax refund fraud,' Mr Whyte said.

    If in doubt you should:

    • go directly to the myGov homepage, sign in to check your inbox for messages
    • contact your registered tax agent
    • phone the ATO on 1800 008 540.

    For more information, go to ato.gov.au/scams.

    To report a scam email, forward the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.

    Learn more about malware and phishing emails at scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/threats-extortion/malware-ransomwareExternal Link.

    Last modified: 07 Nov 2016QC 50467