The Australian Taxation Office has warned people to be careful about sharing their personal details, with scammers likely to be active during tax season.
The ATO has revealed that 17,067 scam reports have been registered in 2017 so far. These have resulted in 113 Australians handing over $1.5 million to fraudsters, as well as about 2,500 providing some form of personal information, including tax file numbers.
One victim lost $900,000 to scammers over the course of several months, according to the ATO.
The ATO expects scamming activity to increase during tax time. Between July and October last year, 48,084 scams were reported to the ATO.
Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said Australians need to keep an eye out for scams – although some are harder to spot than others.
“Scammers locate genuine ATO numbers from our website and project these numbers in their caller ID in an attempt to legitimise their call – a form of impersonation known as ‘spoofing’,” she said.
“While we do make thousands of calls per week to the community, our outbound calls do not project numbers on caller ID. If one appears, it’s most likely a scam.
“People should be wary of emails, phone calls and SMS during tax time that claim to be from the ATO, even if it seems legitimate.”
ATO explains how to stay safe
To avoid becoming a victim of scammers, the ATO has offered these tips:
- Only share your personal information with people you trust and organisations that legitimately need it
- Keep your computers and mobile devices secure by changing your passwords regularly
- Keep your security software up to date
- Don’t click on suspicious links
- Do not reply to any SMS or email with your personal or financial information
- Be wary if someone asks you for your bank account or personal details, or demands money, refunds or free gifts
- Ignore requests in emails or SMS requesting you to click on a link to log onto government or banking digital services
- If you think you or someone you know might have been contacted by a scammer, or have fallen victim to a tax-related scam, contact the ATO on 1800 008 540
For updates on the latest scams, visit Scamwatch.