Have you ever been scammed? Would you even know if your devices or social media had been hacked?
Scammers are getting quite sophisticated in their tactics, especially as technology progresses and most of the rest of us a getting complacent as technology does more for us. ATO scams are now more than sending a threatening email, phone call or text saying that you will be arrested if you don’t pay said taxation obligations immediately.
Scammers will act like this contact is the last chance you have to pay; they will say they have chased you for months and this is your final warning before you get arrested and sent to goal when you’re pretty sure you’ve never been informed of this debt before.
The ATO will never demand immediate payment from you, but instead will suggest a payment plan or ask you where they can send a payment slip or direct you to MyGov where you can download your own or pay them online directly. Scammers are more likely to ask you to pay in a specific way, including sending money through a money transfer company Western Union, anyone?) or via gift cards or other vouchers.
The ATO will never threaten you with arrest or goal time in any form of contact with you about outstanding obligations or money owing and they will never ask for personal or financial information via email or text. If you are ever contacted and you feel uncertain about the legitimacy of it, get in touch with either your Tax Agent (e.g. your accountant here at Verve) or contact the ATO directly on 13 28 61.
These scammers rely heavily on you not knowing where you are at with your taxes, so be informed, know when and for what year you’ve lodged and know what you owe. Get onto MyGov and have a look at your accounts and please, please don’t share your log in details with anyone, even if they say they are from the ATO, the ATO will never ask you to share passwords with them.
They will, however, ask you to confirm your Tax File Number and date of birth in a phone call. If you are uncomfortable or uncertain, don’t. Ask the caller for their full name and a reference number for the call. Hang up and call the ATO on the number above and provide these details to them and they can ascertain the legitimacy of the contact. Don’t let these cretins bilk you out of your money, let the Australian Government do it legitimately – Ha! Seriously, be aware.
Scam Watch (link below) is a website where you can report any dodgy dealings you have had or think you might have had. They will investigate claims and sus out the validity behind them. Your intuition could have just saved you and others, thousands. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/.
Some safety tips to consider are:
· updating your passwords and change the answers to your security questions regularly and as much as it’s a bit of a bother sometimes, get amongst the two-step authentication for your devices and do updates on them regularly.
· The ATO will send out correspondence via email but won’t send any links. If you are sent an email with a link, don’t click on it. Hover your cursor over the link and it will show you the destination of the link, usually to some unrelated place. If you click on it, the sender could then download malware onto your computer or other device that can track your keystrokes and record your data. The sender may even know some personal information about you already, gathered from a previous breech or what you post on social media. Scammers are cunning and patient.
· Don’t give out any personal or financial information in a response to a request that you’re not expecting.
· Block all unknown/unwanted phone calls and text messages.
· Be alert.
Good luck and stay safe out there!