Surge in tax scams prompt warnings from CPA Australia and NAB

Young Australians at most risk this filing season

Surge in tax scams prompt warnings from CPA Australia and NAB



As tax season approaches, Australians are being urged to remain vigilant against an increase in sophisticated scams targeting taxpayers.

Both CPA Australia and NAB have highlighted the importance of recognising scam attempts and protecting personal information, as reports of fraudulent activity are on the rise.

In a recent episode of CPA Australia’s "With Interest" podcast, ATO’s assistant commissioner of cyber governance, Joda Walter, said that ATO-branded SMS and emails with links to fake myGov web pages are among the most common scam tactics.

Fake social media accounts posing as the ATO and myGov have also become prevalent on platforms like Facebook and X.

Identifying legitimate messages from the ATO can be challenging, but there are several indicators to help discern authenticity.

Emails or SMS messages with grammatical mistakes or unusual language are likely scams. The ATO no longer includes hyperlinks in unsolicited SMS messages, so any message with links or QR codes is a red flag.

Verifying the sender’s address for anomalies, such as additional letters or numbers in what appears to be official ATO emails, is also crucial.

Be cautious of messages requesting personal or financial information urgently, as the ATO will never ask for sensitive data through email or SMS. On social media, look for official verification ticks on ATO or myGov accounts. Remember that the ATO does not discuss personal account details on these platforms.

If in doubt, verify the legitimacy of the message by contacting the ATO directly at 1-800-008-540 or visiting the official ATO website.

“Scammers take advantage of any situation, and at tax time, they target unsuspecting individuals through unsolicited messages claiming to be the ATO or another reputable organisation,” said CPA Australia spokesperson Gavan Ord (pictured above).

“Always stop, think, and don’t share any personal information, including your tax file number or bank details.”

The ATO reports that Australians aged 25-34 are the most likely to fall victim to ATO impersonation scams, though all age groups are targeted.

“It’s alarming that young, tech-savvy Australians are frequently victims of these scams. It’s a wake-up call for everyone to remain vigilant,” Ord said. He also advised checking in with elderly and vulnerable family members to ensure they are aware of common scam tactics.

NAB has noted that over 1,800 impersonation scams reported monthly to the ATO. Scam reports increased by 34% between March and April this year.

Common tax scams include ATO impersonation scams, where text messages with links claim to be from the ATO; tax refund scams, which request personal details and fees to release supposed tax refunds; tax owed scams, involving threats of arrest unless a fake tax debt is paid via credit card, money transfer, or gift cards; tax advice scams, where scammers offer help with tax and super questions from fake ATO social media accounts; and TFN and ABN scams, where fake websites offer services for a fee but instead steal money and personal information.

To protect against these scams, NAB suggests avoiding responding to unsolicited messages requesting personal information, not clicking on suspicious links, and verifying unexpected phone calls by contacting the organisation using publicly listed numbers.

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