• How to verify or report a scam

    Danger

    SCAM ALERT: If you receive an email from us from delayedreturn@ato.gov.au do not open it. More information can be found in example 1 of Email scams below.

    End of danger

    Verify the legitimacy of a communication

    You can check on any communication that you aren’t sure about, or report a phone scam, by phoning us on 1800 008 540.

    Report an unsolicited email

    You can report unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.

    If you've been a victim of a tax-related scam

    If you think you have been a victim of a tax-related scam, phone us on 1800 008 540 – do so immediately, because your personal details, including your TFN, may be compromised.

    You should also contact your bank/financial institution as soon as possible if you provided your credit card details as part of the suspected scam.

    Examples of tax-related scams

    Scam emails, faxes, SMS and phone calls can look or sound very convincing. You can generally tell they're not genuine because they offer you an unexpected refund or grant and ask you to provide personal information, credit card information or money.

    We will never email you asking for personal or credit card details, and you should never provide this information.

    Here are some examples to help you recognise scams when you encounter them:

    Email scams

    These emails claim to come from the ATO and usually offer a tax refund. Generally, they link to a bogus ATO website asking for personal and credit card details. These emails can differ in their appearance and level of sophistication, but will generally state that you are eligible for a refund and instruct you to click on a link to submit a form to receive it.

    One version of this scam contains an attachment infected with a virus. If you receive an email like this, do not open the attachment.

    Under no circumstances should you give personal information, including credit card or banking details. Anyone who has received a suspicious phone call or email should contact us immediately.

    If you receive an email asking for personal information, report it to us.

    Below are examples of hoax emails. We’ve highlighted the aspects that identify them as a scam.

    Example 1

    Delayed return tax scam

    The above email comes from a legitimate ATO email address.

    In this example, the spammer has used a copy of our legitimate delayedreturn@ato.gov.au email address, but instead of a client list attachment, they have included an executable file which is likely a malware application. Such applications or ‘.exes’ are commonly used to compromise a recipient’s computer when opened.

    Do not respond to this email, or open the .exe file. Delete the email immediately.

    Example 2

    40973 example 1 image

    The above email looks to have come from a valid ato.gov.au domain, but is actually a 'spoofed' email address. The key indicators of this scam are that the email:

    • asks for photographs of your personal identification documents to “verify your identity”
    • states that we will email you to let you know your account is verified.

    Do not respond to this email. Delete the email immediately.

    Example 3

     myGov and ATO scam email. Uses the ATO and myGov logo to add authenticity. Shows email coming from non ATO email address. Asks the taxpayer to provide their credit card details to receive a refund.

    The above email looks as though it is being sent “on behalf of the Australian Taxation Office”, but is actually being sent from another account. It also uses the myGov and ATO logos to add authenticity to the scam. The key indicators of this scam are that the email:

    • Is sent from a non ato.gov.au email address
    • States that you are eligible for a large unexpected refund
    • Links to a form which will ask you to complete personal information – such as your date of birth and credit card information.

    Don't click the link – it may contain malware. Delete the email immediately.

    Example 4  

    Phishing email sent from invalid email address: ato.com.au

    The above email has been sent from an invalid email address – ato.com.au

    If recipients of the above email click the embedded link, they get taken to the following:

    Fake ATO website. Address bar shows URL is not ATO.

    The above is going to a website that looks like the ATO's – however, if you look closely at the address bar, it is not the ATO website.

    Example 5

    Scam email appearing to come from ATO.

    The above email looks to have come from a valid ato.gov.au domain, but is actually a 'spoofed' email address. The key indicators of this scam are that the email:

    • Does not address you by name
    • States that you are eligible for a large unexpected refund
    • Advises that a refund will be paid into a credit card account (we only pay refunds by cheque or into an Australian bank account)
    • Asks you to complete a form with personal information.

    Don't click the link – it may contain malware. Delete the email immediately.

    Example 6

    Scam email appearing to come from ATO.

    This scam email appears to be from an ato.gov.au email address and displays as being sent from the Australian Taxation Office.

    It uses an out of date logo.

    If there is an error or issue with your tax return, we will not contact you by email.

    Don't click on the link – delete the email immediately.

    Example 7

    Phishing web page that mimics ATO online services.

    This example is quite sophisticated – it copies the look and feel of our online services.

    The key indicators of this scam are:

    • The form requests you to provide personal information, such as your driver's licence details and mother's maiden name
    • It asks that you provide your credit card details, including CVN
    • The form is located on a website not hosted by the ATO.

    Mobile phone scams

    Mobile phone scams differ in appearance and level of sophistication but will generally claim that you are eligible for a refund and instruct you to click on a link to submit a form to receive it.

    Generally, they link to a bogus ATO website asking for personal information (including your mobile phone number) and credit card details.

    By clicking the link or filling in the details you will potentially expose yourself to identity theft.

    Scams that come to you on your mobile can be difficult to recognise. You should be wary of unsolicited texts or messages claiming to be from the ATO.

    Occasionally we may send you an SMS – however, we will never message you asking for personal or credit card details.

    If in doubt about the authenticity of a call that you receive from the ATO, you can call us on phone us 1800 008 540.

    [You can check whether an SMS claiming to be from us is genuine by referring to our list of SMS activities.

    Under no circumstances should you provide personal information, such as credit card or banking details.

    If you receive any messages like the examples shown below, you should delete them immediately. If you provided your personal details, you should contact us and your financial institution immediately.

    If you receive an SMS or email asking for personal information, report it to us.

    See also:

    Examples of email scams

    Phone scams

    From time to time we may contact you by phone, but you should be wary of unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from the ATO and offering you a tax refund. Increasingly, we are seeing these scams using names and addresses that have some correlation to actual ATO officers and buildings. We advise taxpayers to be vigilant when receiving phone calls of this nature.

    If in doubt about the authenticity of a call that you receive from the ATO, you can call us on phone us 1800 008 540.

    Below are examples of recent phone scams.

    Example 1

    You receive a call from a person saying they are from the ATO. The person may say a letter has been sent to advise you of this phone call, and that the call is to discuss a scheme to reduce your tax for retirement. The person will say they are going to send someone around to discuss your situation and ask questions about your occupation, your assets or whether you have a financial planner or accountant. They may already know your address.
    No contact information or reference number is provided.

    Key indicators of this scam:

    • Cold calling (unsolicited calls)
    • The caller may be pushy to book an appointment, and advise that there are ATO representatives in your neighbourhood now
    • You are asked questions about your financial situation and other personal information that could be used to steal your identity
    • The caller advises of ‘schemes’ to help reduce your tax and offers to provide financial advice.

    Example 2

    You are called on either your private home or mobile number by a person claiming to be from the ATO. You are told that due to ’errors’ on your tax return, a warrant has been issued for your arrest and the police will be called unless you attend the local post office and make an immediate payment. A variation of this scam asks you to purchase a ‘Load and Go’ card.

    Key indicators of this scam:

    • Cold calling (unsolicited call)
    • You are advised that there is a warrant for your arrest
    • The callers use an aggressive tone
    • You are asked to make a payment without having received any prior advice or correspondence from the ATO

    You are asked to make a payment without being provided with a personal payment slip.

    Example 3

    You are called on either your private home or mobile number by a person claiming to be from the ATO. They say that you have been chosen to receive a business grant from the federal government (amount can vary). You are told you need to phone a specific number straight away to organise the process to collect the grant.

    Key indicators of this scam:

    • Cold calling (unsolicited calls).
    • The caller advises that you have been chosen for a business grant.
    • You are asked to phone to organise the collection of the grant. When phoning, you will likely be asked for personal information, including financial details, or requested to pay an amount to have the money released. You may also be asked to provide other personal information that could be used to steal your identity.
    • The caller provides details which may be similar to actual ATO officer details or addresses – however, the street name may be spelt incorrectly, or the wrong postcode is provided with the address.

    Example 4

    You are called on either your private home or mobile number by a person claiming to be from the ATO. They say that you are owed a tax refund of around $3,000 (could be any amount) and that you need to make a money transfer to an Indian orphanage or other charity of around $150 in order to receive your refund.

    Generally, they provide a NSW phone number to contact the ‘ATO’ once you have completed the transfer. The scammers sometimes quote personal information, such as address and date of birth, during the conversation to show authenticity, and also often have several private contact numbers for you.

    Key indicators of this scam:

    • Cold calling (unsolicited calls)
    • The caller advises that you have an unclaimed refund
    • You are asked to pay a sum of money to a third party in order to receive the refund
    • The payment must be made through a money transfer
    • The return phone number is a NSW number rather than a national 1300 number.

    Example 5

    You receive a call from a person saying that they are from 'The Tax Office's Australian Government Grants Department'. The person asks to clarify your name and address and says you will receive a cheque for $5,200, hand delivered the next day. In order to get this cheque, you need to call a phone number to confirm eligibility.

    Key indicators of this scam:

    • Cold calling (unsolicited calls)
    • The caller advises that you will receive this money as they have 'unclaimed taxes' and/or they 'pay tax frequently'
    • All the call centre operatives refer to themselves as 'Harry'
    • You call the number provided and are asked to go to Australia Post and complete a 'Yellow Form' (presumably an International Money order) and call them back to provide a 10-digit confirmation number from the form

    You must attach $99 and address the form to 'Australian Government - Veerendra Kumar, Bareilly, India'.

    • Last modified: 09 Feb 2016QC 40945