A plea from Consumer Protection for people to be aware of the various tax scams has been prompted by figures which show a large increase in losses suffered by WA victims.
So far this financial year (1 July 2020 to 31 May 2021), 34 people have reported losing a total of $268,300 with 217 reports being received. This is a massive increase when compared to the 2019 calendar year statistics showing 22 victims losing $100,450 and 51 reports.
Taxpayers targeted receive hostile phone calls or voicemail messages from scammers pretending to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) threatening arrest unless a fake tax debt is paid. Other variations include the supposed suspension of a Tax File Number or claims that the victim’s bank account has been used for fraudulent activities that are being investigated by Police.
The calls can also come from scammers pretending to represent Home Affairs, Services Australia or MyGov. They ask for a variety of payment methods including bank transfer, cash bank deposits, iTunes/Google Play/Steam cards, Neosurf vouchers, gift cards, prepaid credit cards or cryptocurrencies.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said the scammers often hold their victims on the phone until payment is made.
“By doing this they maximise the pressure on their victims and prevent them from contacting other people who may warn of the possibility of a scam,” Mr Newcombe said.
“If you get one of these calls, don’t be intimidated. Hang up and contact the ATO directly to verify the call but don’t use numbers that are given. Do the same if it’s a voicemail and importantly don’t respond, otherwise you could risk becoming a victim.”
Tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Confirm the caller’s name, title and why they are calling.
- Call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to verify the ATO contact or log in to your MyGov account to check your tax affairs.
- Never send money or give financial/personal details to someone you don’t know or trust.