Scammers kickstart the year by pretending to be ATO


Nick Bendel
Feb 10, 2019( 2 min read )

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It’s too early for tax time, but criminals aren’t going to let that stop them, as scammers take to SMS to convince you they’re from the tax office.

There are still a few months before the tax year is over, but that hasn’t stopped would-be criminals from trying to fleece you out of money, and some of your identity, as well.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning people of a scam going around where scammers aren’t just saying they’re the ATO, but outright faking the number where an SMS is coming from to make you think the Tax Office is sending it.

By using a technique known as “spoofing”, criminals are manipulating the message being sent, all in an attempt to make fake messages seem that much more real and legitimate.

“We are seeing the emergence of a new tactic, where scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat.

“This scam is not just targeting your money, but is after your personal information in an attempt to steal your identity,” she said.

“Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message or email asking you to provide login, personal or financial information, especially if you weren’t expecting it.”

Fraudulent messages like this will likely ask you to login to the ATO website using a link that instead takes you to a website designed to look like the Tax Office’s, but instead goes to the scammer. The details you enter could then be captured and used against you, with your identity and finances at risk.

The ATO advises people who receive messages they’re not sure about to contact the Tax Office and check whether a message is authentic.

“If you are unsure about a call, text message or email that you have received, don’t reply. It’s OK to slow down and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the contact was legitimate or to report a scam,” said Ms Foat.

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