CENTRAL West residents have been warned about a wave of scam phone calls threatening jail for those who have not shared their tax details.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said it received more than 37,000 reports of scam attempts in November and unsuspecting residents lost more than $800,000 to con artists.
The ATO said one elderly person lost more than $236,000 to scammers between June and November this year.
Assistant Commissioner, Kath Anderson, said the ATO has seen an increase in scam phone calls, especially those using software that resembles a legitimate phone number to disguise the caller’s true identity, over the last month.
“The ATO does not project our numbers using caller IDs,” Ms Anderson said.
“You can be confident that if there is a number displayed in your caller ID, it isn’t the ATO.”
Ms Anderson said taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if they are not expecting it.
“While the ATO regularly contacts taxpayers by phone, email and SMS, there are some tell-tale signs that it isn’t the ATO,” she said.
“The ATO will not use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation; request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn’t either 092-009 or 093-003; and request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.
“The ATO will also not send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide log-in, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.”
The ATO said phone scams are the most common scams, but scammers have been constantly changing tactics.
More than 6000 people have handed over their personal and financial information to scammers since July this year through unsolicited emails and text messages.
Top tips to protect yourself from scammers
- Know your tax affairs – Taxpayers can log into myGov to check their tax affairs at any time, or can contact their tax agent or the ATO.
- Guard your personal and financial information – Be careful when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments. Only give your personal information to people you trust, and try not to share it on social media.
- If you are unsure about whether a call, text message or email is genuine, don’t reply. Call the ATO on 1800 008 540.