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  • Verify or report a scam

    Check or report an ATO impersonation scam and get to know some warning signs of phone, email and SMS tax scams.

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    Verify a scam

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

    Scammers often pretend to be from trusted organisations like the ATO.

    We will sometimes contact you by phone, email, SMS and post. If you're not sure whether it's really us, do not reply. You should phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    Report a scam

    If you have been affected by an ATO impersonation scam, you can report it to us.

    This information contains instructions on how to report a scam:

    Information about scams and how to report a scam is also available in Easy Read format and other languages.

    Phone scams

    If you received a scam phone call and you did pay money or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, phone us on 1800 008 540 to report it.

    You should also:

    • make an official report to your local police
    • contact your bank or financial institution if you provided your credit card or bank details to the scammer
    • contact the bank you made the payment to and lodge a fraud report.

    If you received a scam phone call and did not pay money or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you should still report the scam to us. You can use our online Report a scam form.

    Email and SMS scams

    If you received a scam email or SMS, do not click on any links, open any attachments or download any files.

    If you did pay money or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, phone us on 1800 008 540 to report it.

    You should also:

    • make an official report to your local police
    • contact your bank or financial institution if you provided your credit card or bank details to the scammer
    • contact the bank you made the payment to and lodge a fraud report.

    If you did not pay money or provide sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you should still report the scam to us. You can either:

    Delete the email or SMS after reporting it to us.

    You can report other types of scams to ScamwatchExternal Link, or contact the Australian Cyber Security CentreExternal Link to report cybercrime.

    Social media scams

    We’ve recently observed several social media accounts impersonating us.

    If you are approached by a social media account that is impersonating us, do not engage with it. Take a screenshot of the account or post and email it to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.

    Warning signs of tax scams

    Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to trick people.

    There are some common warning signs in the information below to help you check if you have been contacted by a scammer or by us:

    You can also find out about current scams we're aware of.

    Phone scams

    Some of the common features of phone scams are described in the table below. Use this information to help you identify if a phone call claiming to be from us is a scam.

    How to identify phone scams

    What scammers may do

    Our approach

    Scammers may threaten you with immediate arrest. They do this to make you afraid or panic and stop you thinking clearly.

    We will never threaten you with immediate arrest.

    Scammers may:

    • demand you pay right now and keep you on the phone line until you pay
    • say that if you hang up there will be a warrant for your arrest.

    They use these threats to make you pay by the end of the call.

    We will never demand you stay on the line until a payment is made.

    Scammers may:

    • send unsolicited pre-recorded messages (robocalls) to your phone
    • leave messages on your voicemail asking you to call back.

     

    We will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.

    Only phone us on a number you have looked up yourself. Do not call the number given to you in the call or voicemail.

    Scammers may use technology to show real ATO or Australian phone numbers in the caller ID or call log.

    Calls from the ATO do not show a number. They will show as No Caller ID.

    Only phone us on a number you have looked up yourself. Do not call the number shown in caller ID or in your call log.

    Scammers may tell you that your tax file number (TFN) has been cancelled or suspended due to money laundering or other criminal activity.

    They will say you either need to:

    • pay money to avoid being arrested or sent to court
    • transfer your money to a safe bank account to protect your TFN from future misuse.

     

    We do not cancel TFNs.

    Always check that you're dealing with a legitimate agency before providing any information. If you're not sure, hang up.

    You can phone us to check. Only call us on a number you have looked up yourself. Do not call the number given to you in the call or voicemail.

    Scammers may refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted adviser or your regular tax agent.

    They do this to prevent anyone from telling you that it’s a scam and stopping you from paying.

    We will never prevent you from discussing your tax affairs with your trusted adviser or agent.

    Scammers may attempt to make a conference call with a fake tax professional, law enforcement officer or another official.

    They do this to make the call seem real and increase your fear, but the second person will be another scammer.

    We will never make a conference call with a third party, such as your tax agent or law enforcement.

    Know your tax affairs – you can log into ATO online services through myGov to check your tax affairs at any time. You can also contact your tax agent or the ATO.

    Scammers may request payment by iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers.

    These vouchers can be easily purchased and sold globally. They are an untraceable form of currency (money).

    We will never request payment of a debt through iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request payment by JB hi-fi, Myer, Woolworths or other retail gift cards.

    These gift cards can be easily purchased and are an untraceable form of currency (money).

    We will never request payment of a debt through JB hi-fi, Myer, Woolworths or other retail gift cards.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request payment by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, either directly or deposited into an ATM.

    This currency is difficult to trace and offers more anonymity.

    We do not accept payment in cryptocurrency.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request that you pay money into a personal bank account. This could be an Australian-based account established by scammers. The money moves accounts until it is sent offshore.

    We will only ever ask you to pay a tax debt into a bank account held by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Check online to see that the Bank-State-Branch (BSB) number is one for the Reserve Bank of Australia.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request that you pay through cardless cash ATM withdrawals.

    We will never ask you to pay a tax debt through a cardless cash ATM withdrawal.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request you pay money through offshore wire transfer (where the scammers are located).

    We will not request payment of a debt through offshore wire transfer.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request that you pay money through a cash delivery either through a courier service or made in person at a pre-determined public location.

    We will never ask you to pay through a cash delivery.

    You can find out about legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO.

    Scammers may request that you pay a fee to receive a tax refund. They will usually ask you to pay the fee using your credit card and then steal your credit card details.

    We will never ask you to pay a fee to receive a refund.

    Do not provide your credit card details to anyone unless you trust the person you’re dealing with and they genuinely require these details.

    Scammers may offer payment arrangements if you can’t pay the full amount.

    This is done to increase instances of payments and the total amount paid.

    Before you enter a payment arrangement, contact us or your tax agent using a number you have looked up yourself.

    Emails and SMS scams

    Some of the common features of email and SMS scams are described in the table below. Use this information to help you identify and respond to scams.

    How to identify and respond to email or SMS scams

    What scammers may do

    Our approach

    Scammers may ask you to provide your personal identifying and financial institution details through a return SMS or email to receive a refund. 

    We may use SMS or email to ask you to contact us, but we will never send an unsolicited message asking you to return personal identifying information through these channels.

    Protect your personal information. Do not give out your tax file number (TFN), date of birth or bank details unless you trust the person you are dealing with and they genuinely require these details.

    Scammers may request that you click on a link in an SMS or email to log on to an online service.

    Scammers create fake log on pages that look real. They use these sites to steal your credentials (usernames and passwords).

    We will never send you an email or SMS with a link to log in to our online services.

    Scammers may ask you to click on a link in an SMS or email to download forms or attachments.

    They may do this to install malicious software on your computer to gain access to your data. Or they may keep your personal identifying or financial information for future misuse.

    Be careful when downloading attachments or clicking links, even if the message seems to come from someone you know.

    Social media scams

    Some of the common features of social media tax scams are described in the table below. Use this information to help you identify and respond to scams.

    How to identify and respond to social media scams

    What scammers may do

    Our approach

    Scammers may create fake social media accounts and send requests to you asking for personal identifying information or payments.

    When you comment on our social media posts, they may respond and offer to provide support, asking you to direct message them.

    We're actively working to combat these scams as they arise.

    We are on FacebookExternal Link, TwitterExternal Link and LinkedInExternal Link, but we will never use these social media platforms to ask you to provide personal information or documentation or ask you to make payments.

    You can tell it's genuinely our Facebook account as our page has a blue verification tick next to our name. Our Twitter account has a grey check mark and the word ‘Official’ under our username.

    You can verify us on LinkedIn by ensuring that the account you’re engaging with:

    • has the official ATO logo and organisational name next to the message. Beware of slight variations of our name, like ‘Australia’ rather than ‘Australian’ Taxation Office
    • has been posting on LinkedIn actively, and has been doing so for a long time
    • only provides you with email addresses that end with ‘.gov.au’
    • doesn’t have typos or grammatical errors in its messages
    • has a large number of account followers.

    We will never interact with you through Whatsapp.

    Never share information such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details on social media, even through private message.

     Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra. 

    Last modified: 28 Nov 2022QC 40945