The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has issued a new alert about a phone scam after seeing an “unprecedented” number of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be from the ATO.
The agency’s warning details how scammer claim the call recipient has outstanding tax debts and threatens them 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.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said scammers had adopted ‘Robocall’ technology to target taxpayers across the country.
“Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages in record numbers and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer,” he said yesterday.
“We are now seeing thousands of Australians missing a call from a scammer, returning the call based on the number on caller ID and speaking to legitimate members of the ATO.
“Our calls do not show a number on caller ID nor do we use pre-recorded messages,” he said.
“If the scammers do make contact, they will request payment of a tax debt – usually through unusual methods like bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers.”
The ATO has received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams so far in 2019 with more than $1 million in losses.
SAPOL reiterates the ATO warning about this scam activity – always make independent checks to verify the source of unsolicited calls.
For more information from the ATO and how to check if you have been approached by a scammer: https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/Scammers-impersonate-ATO-phone-numbers/