AS tax time rolls around each year, and we all start paying more attention to our finances, someone else is paying attention – the scammer.
Opportunistic scammers take advantage of the complex and often daunting tax period to target consumers in an attempt to steal their money and their personal information. These can take the form of phone calls, e-mails or other messages claiming to be from the ATO and detailing tax debts, refunds, fake TFN and ABN applications, and cryptocurrency tax evasions.
But there are simple ways you can protect yourself, says gmcu fraud officer, Maddi Schultz.
“The first thing to keep in mind is that the ATO and other government agencies will generally not contact you with an SMS urging you to click a link, or a threatening phone call. If you are contacted, it’s always recommended you hang up, find the ATO’s contact number from their official website, and use that to call them back. This way you can verify you’re speaking to the real organisation and can then confirm whether there is an outstanding matter or not.
“Trust your instincts and pay attention if something doesn’t feel right. Scammers can become aggressive and attempt to rush you, causing you to panic, but you should never be afraid to simply end the conversation to give yourself time to think. If you are afraid that you have been the victim of a scam, or have given your information to somebody you shouldn’t have, contact your financial institution as soon as possible.”
An important way to protect yourself from scams is to stay informed. To learn more about the latest scams, and for information and tips to stay safe, visit official government sources such as www.scamwatch.gov.au/ and www.cyber.gov.au/.