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  • Scam alerts

    If you're not sure if an ATO interaction is genuine, don’t reply to it. Instead:

    Keep informed of new scam alerts by subscribing to general email updates. Subscribers will receive updates on all new general content on our website, including the latest scam alerts.

    If you speak another language, there's more information on our website to help you learn about scams and understand tax and superannuation (super) in Australia (see Other languages).

    On this page:

    Latest alerts

    July 2020 SMS and email scams – verify your myGov details

    We’re receiving increasing reports of several myGov-related SMS and email scams. These scams look like they have come from a myGov or ATO email address. They also might appear in your legitimate ATO or myGov SMS message thread.

    The image below is one example of an SMS scam currently circulating.

    Don’t click any links and don’t provide the information requested.

    Image of the word Scam advising to log into your account to verify details to ensure your account is secure. Do this via bit.ly/myGovhelp within 24 hours or account will be locked.

    You will get email or SMS notifications from myGov whenever there are new messages in your myGov Inbox. However, these messages will never include a link to log on to your myGov account. Always access our online services directly via one of the following:

    • my.gov.au
    • ato.gov.au
    • the ATO app.

    All online management of your personal tax affairs should be done in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Any communications containing your personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN), will be sent to your myGov inbox, not your email account.

    You can make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    If you receive an SMS or email from the ATO that you think is fraudulent, report it by sending an email to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.

    If you receive an SMS or email that looks like it’s from myGov but it contains a link or appears suspicious, email reportascam@servicesaustralia.gov.au. If you have clicked on a link or provided your personal information, contact Services Australia on 1800 941 126.

    See also:

    June 2020 phone scam – threatening arrest and requesting personal details

    We're receiving reports of scammers sending members of the public automated phone calls pretending to be from the ATO, as well as other government agencies including Services Australia and the Department of Legal Services. These automated calls claim their TFN has been suspended and that there is a legal case against their name. The call tells people they must contact the caller by pressing '1' or they will be referred to the court and arrested.

    If the person presses '1' and makes contact with the scammer they are typically told that their TFN had been suspended due to money laundering or other suspicious or fraudulent activity and that there are several allegations against them. They're then asked to provide the last four digits of their TFN, address, date of birth, name of their bank account, and the approximate amount of money in the account/s. Sometimes the scammer will ‘transfer’ the victim to the ‘police’ where they're told a case has been filed against them and they will be arrested unless they pay. Sometimes they advise the victim will receive mail to their home or that their bank accounts will be closed.

    If you receive this call hang up and do not provide the information requested. We will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone or threaten you with immediate arrest.

    If you aren't sure whether an ATO call is legitimate, hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    Scammers are constantly developing new ways to steal from the community and will often try to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable.

    You can help us stop scammers in their tracks by warning your friends and family to stay alert.

    See also:

    May 2020 phone scam – requesting bank account details for the JobKeeper payment

    We're receiving reports of scammers pretending to be from the ATO calling members of the public and asking them to provide their bank account details. They are telling them that their employer has registered them for the JobKeeper Payment, but that the ATO needs their bank account details to deposit the funds into their account.

    Do not provide the information requested. Employees that are eligible for JobKeeper payments will be paid by their employer and the ATO will reimburse their employer for these payments. The ATO does not need the bank account details of individual employees.

    If you are not sure whether an ATO call is legitimate, hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check.

    Scammers are constantly developing new ways to steal from the community, and will often try to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable.

    You can help us stop scammers in their tracks by warning your friends and family to stay alert.

    See also:

    March 2020 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are texting people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a refund.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. The link in this scam will take you to a fake myGov website.

    The website is a phishing page and is being used to harvest user credentials. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam text message: 'You are due to receive an ATO refund of $1786.51. Visit https://ato.gov.au.txreturn.info/ and complete security check to claim refund.'

    The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    If you use ATO online services for individuals and sole traders, all online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    Make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    Scammers are constantly developing new ways to steal from the community, and will often try to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable.

    See also:

    February 2020 SMS scam – 8% bonus for people affected by natural disasters

    Scammers are exploiting Australia's recent natural disasters in an SMS scam that is asking people to click on a link and provide personal information in order to receive an 8% bonus on their tax return.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take.

    The link will take you to a fake myGov website, designed to steal your personal information. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam text message: 'Due to natural distasters, Australians are entitled to an 8% bonus on their tax return. Please begin the process by filling out the form below. Link: https://my.gov.verification-digital.com

    The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    We will never ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    You can make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    When disasters like the recent bushfires strike, scammers will often try to take advantage of vulnerable Australians.

    We do what we can to stop scammers in their tracks, but it’s important to stay vigilant and warn your family and friends.

    See also:

    Previous alerts

    January 2020 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Similar to the alert we issued in August, scammers are texting people asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a refund.

    To make the text messages seem more legitimate, scammers are using technology that causes them to appear in your genuine ATO message feed.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. The link in this scam will take you to a fake myGov website.

    The website asks users to provide their bank details, along with other personal identifying information, for ‘verification purposes’. Do not click on any links and do not disclose the information requested.

    Scam. We've noticed you have a positive balance 320.70AUD from last finacial years. Please verify your information to recieve the funds myatoservice.com/3/?ID=

    The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services, accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    If you haven’t already, make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    We've initiated disruption activity to protect the community from this scam, but it's a good idea to encourage your friends and family to keep an eye out. This is particularly important in the current environment, as scams often spike when people are most vulnerable.

    See also:

    October 2019 SMS scam – 'update your details' request

    Scammers are sending text messages to people, asking them to click on a link to update their details in myGov.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. If you click on the link in this scam, it will take you to a fake myGov impersonation website.

    Image of a scam text message, which says 'SCAM. Last warning to update your details' with a link to 'https://taxau.info/?resolveID_471 2'

    The website instructs users to login to what looks like their myGov account. It then asks them to update their bank and credit card details. Do not click on these links and do not disclose the information requested.

    The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services accessed through your genuine myGov account. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au.

    Make accessing your myGov account more secure by opting to receive a security code via SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    See also:

    August 2019 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are sending text messages to people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a tax refund.

    The image below is one example of the format this scam can take. If you click on the link in this scam, it will take you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form. The aim of this is to steal your personal information.

    Image of a scam text message, which says 'You are due to receive an ATO DIRECT refund of $2675.51. Visit www.ato.direct and logon with your phone number and ATO PIN to claim'.

    To make the message appear real, scammers may use technology that makes it appear in your legitimate ATO message feed.

    The ATO does not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form or website and we will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    Managing your tax affairs online should always be done in ATO online services via your genuine myGov account. You can make this more secure by updating your sign-in options at my.gov.au – so you receive a code by SMS when signing in.

    See also:

    June 2019 – fake tax debt scam via WhatsApp

    There has been an increase in scammers using WhatsApp to impersonate the ATO. Current reports indicate the scam is the latest twist to the fake tax debt scam where scammers issue a pre-recorded voice message to your phone demanding immediate payment of a tax debt and threatening immediate arrest. In addition to requesting payment via unusual methods, the scammers may also ask call recipients to send a photo of their driver’s licence, passport or other identity credential via WhatsApp. This may result in far reaching identity compromise for victims.

    WhatsApp logo

    The ATO does not have a profile on WhatsApp and will never engage with you on this platform.

    Never give out any sensitive personal identifying information unless you can independently verify the identity of the person or organisation you are providing it to.

    Know your tax affairs – you can log into ATO online services through myGov to check your tax affairs at any time, or you can contact your tax agent or the ATO via an independently sourced number.

    Cyber criminals can also use vulnerabilities in apps such as WhatsApp to access your phone or device. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is currently advising users of WhatsApp to update your app to apply the latest security updates and set your phone and devices to auto update.

    If you receive an ATO impersonation scam phone call or text message, and have not paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you can report the scam online.

    Scam victims who have paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer can call us on 1800 008 540. This number can also be used to verify if an interaction with the ATO is legitimate.

    See also:

    May 2019 SMS scam – tax refund notification

    Scammers are texting people, asking them to click on a link and provide personal identifying information to receive a tax refund. The image below is one example format this scam can take. If you click on the link it will take you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form in order to steal your personal information.

    In an effort to make the text appear real scammers use technology that makes their message appear in your legitimate ATO message feed. Remember to always exercise caution when clicking links or opening attachments in emails or SMS even if they are from someone you know.

    Text message from ‘ATO Reclaim’ saying there’s a tax refund of $2675.41 for you to claim. All you need to do is click on the website link and log on with your phone number and the ATO PIN to claim.

    The ATO does not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form and we will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink.

    All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out in ATO online services accessed via your genuine myGov account. Make accessing ATO online services via your myGov account more secure. Update your sign-in options at my.gov.au so you receive a code by SMS when signing in.

    See also:

    April 2019 phone scam – imitating ATO phone numbers

    Similar to previous alerts we have issued in September and March last year, we are seeing an increased number of reports of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be from the ATO and claiming that there are outstanding tax debts and threatening people with arrest if the debt is not paid immediately.

    Scammers are using technology to make it look like the calls originate from a legitimate ATO phone number. This number may appear on caller ID, be left on voice mail messages for call backs, or directed by *69 for call back functionality. Scammers do this to make the calls seem more valid when they call people a second time. Most frequently the numbers appearing are 6216 1111 and 1800 467 033, but numbers for individual ATO staff members have been used as well.

    While these scam calls may appear to be from the ATO with a spoofed caller ID, it is important to remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never:

    • threaten you with arrest
    • demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
    • refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent
    • or present a phone number on caller ID.

    Never call a scammer back on the number they provide.

    If you are in any doubt about an ATO call hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or report a scam.

    See also:

    March 2019 email scam – myGov tax refund notification

    Scammers are emailing people from a fake myGov email address, asking them to fill out an application to receive a tax refund. The image below is one example format this scam can take. Do not click anywhere in the email as it contains a malicious link and will direct you to a fake ‘Tax Refund’ form in order to steal your personal information.

    Remember to always exercise caution when clicking links or opening attachments in emails.

    myGov image

    This scam email:

    • misleadingly includes the myGov logo
    • asks you to click a link that appears to be the myGov website but when hovering over the link it does not lead to a my.gov.au address
    • does not include your name
    • contains poor grammar and spelling
    • is unexpected.

    The ATO does not have an online ‘Tax Refund’ form. All online management of your tax affairs should be carried out via your genuine myGov account. Make accessing ATO online services via your myGov account more secure. Update your sign-in options at my.gov.au so you receive a code by SMS when signing in.

    See also:

    Last modified: 09 Jul 2020QC 53447