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  • Verify or report a scam

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

    This information about scams is also available in an easy read format.

    Reporting ATO impersonation scams

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

    Phone scams

    • If you or someone you know has paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer, call us on 1800 008 540 to report.
    • If you receive a scam phone call or text message, and have not paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you can report the scam via the online form Report a scam

    Email and text message scams

    If you receive a suspicious email or text message (SMS) claiming to be from us:

    Do not click on a link, open an attachment or download a file.

    Verifying ATO contact

    If you are ever unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, do not reply. You should phone us on 1800 008 540.

    On this page:

    Who else to notify

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

    If you have given your credit card or bank details to someone who shouldn't have them, contact your bank or financial institution.

    If you have paid money into a scammer bank account contact that bank and lodge a fraud report.

    See also:

    Scamming methods

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between legitimate ATO interactions and those of the scammers, however there are some tell-tale signs outlined below to help you verify that you’re dealing with the legitimate ATO.

    The below scamming methods are used to mimic the ATO and attempt to steal your Personal Identifying Information (PII) or money.

    Phone scams

    Scammers may:

    Threaten you with immediate arrest. They do this to create a sense of urgency and instil a fear response.  

    • We will never threaten you with immediate arrest.

    Send unsolicited pre-recorded messages (robocalls) to your phone. These will be delivered when you answer the call or may be left on your voicemail. They often ask you to return the call as the act of responding to robocalls gives the scammers increased certainty of speaking to someone who believed the message.  

    • We will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.
    • Only ever call back on an independently sourced number not the one provided to you or in your call log.

    Use technology to project legitimate numbers on caller ID on your call log, this may include legitimate ATO numbers. They do this to make you think the call originates from Australian numbers.  

    • Calls originating from us do not show a number on caller ID.
    • Only ever call back on an independently sourced number, not one shown on caller ID or in your call log.

    Demand immediate payment and keep you on the line until you pay. They may advise that hanging up will trigger the arrest warrant. This is done to ensure payment is made by the end of the call.  

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

    Refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent. They do this to prevent anyone from telling you that it’s a scam and interrupting the payment.

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

    Conference call in a fake tax professional, law enforcement officer or another official. This is done to add legitimacy to the call and increase the fear response. The second person dialled in is another scammer.  

    • We will never conference call in 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, or you can contact your tax agent or the ATO.

    Request payment by iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers. These vouchers can be easily purchased and sold globally and are an untraceable form of currency.  

    • We will never request payment of a debt via iTunes, Google Play cards or other vouchers.
    • For legitimate ways to pay your tax debt, see How to pay.

    Request payment by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency either directly or deposited into an ATM. This currency is difficult to trace and offers a degree of anonymity.  

    • We do not accept payment in cryptocurrency.

    Request you pay money into a personal bank account. Australian based accounts are established by money mules. The money moves accounts until it eventually is sent offshore.  

    • We will never ask you to pay your tax debt into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Check the Bank-State-Branch (BSB).

    Request you pay via cardless cash transfer.

    • We will never ask you to pay your tax debt via a cardless cash transfer.

    Request you pay money via offshore wire transfer (where the scammers are located).  

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

    Request you pay a fee to receive a refund usually by credit card. Credit card information is often stolen.  

    • We will never ask you to pay a fee in order 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.

    Offer payment arrangements if you can’t pay the full amount. This is done to increase instances of payments and the total amount paid.  

    • Contact us or your tax agent via an independently sourced number before entering into a payment arrangement.

    Emails and text message scams

    Scammers may:

    Request you provide your personal identifying and financial institution details via a return SMS or email in order to receive a refund.  

    • We may use SMS or email to request you to contact us, but we will never ask you to provide personal identifying information via these methods in order to receive a refund. 
    • Don’t give out your TFN, date of birth or bank details unless you trust the person you’re dealing with and they genuinely require these details.

    Request you click on a hyperlink in a text message or email to log on to an online service. Scammers create fake log on pages that look legitimate. They use these sites to keep legitimate credentials (user names and passwords) for future misuse.  

    • We will never send you an email or text message with a hyperlink directing you to a log on page for our online services.

    Request you click on a link in a text message or email to download forms or attachments. Scammers do this to either to install malicious software on your computer to gain access to your data or to keep your personal identifying or financial information for future misuse.  

    • Always use caution when downloading attachments or clicking links in emails, text messages or social media posts, even if they appear to come from someone you know.

    Create fake social media accounts and send requests for personal identifying information or money.  

    • We are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but we will never use these social media platforms to ask you for payment or personal identifiable information.
    • We will never interact with you via Whatsapp.

    Note: Never share your TFN, myGov or bank account details or other sensitive personal identifying information on social media.

    See also:

    Last modified: 21 Nov 2019QC 40945