Warning after sophisticated $149m scam
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued an urgent warning over an elaborate tax scam which imitates an official website and sees users handing over highly sensitive information.
According to the ATO, fraudsters conned Australians out of $149 million last year by adopting technology which impersonates secure government websites.
One of the most recent tax scams to surface is refund notification which comes via SMS and features a link which takes users to a fake myGov website.
After clicking on the link, users are requested to verify their bank details, along with other personal information.
"To make the text messages seem more legitimate, scammers are using technology that causes them to appear in your genuine ATO message feed," reads information about the scam on ATO's website.
"The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink."
According to reports, the scam is one of the more common, with the ACCC revealing more than 25,000 instances of it submitted last year.
This isn't the first time scammers have used impersonation technology to defraud unsuspecting Australians.
In April last year, the ATO issued an urgent warning about overseas scam call which manipulated caller identification to appear as if calls were coming from a real ATO phone number.
Scammers adopted "robocall" technology to send prerecorded messages demanding payment of a tax debt and threatening immediate arrest.
If the recipient answered the phone, at the end of the message they were given an option to speak to a human, who then attempted to keep the caller on the line until payment was made.
"This particular technique is called caller ID spoofing," ATO assistant commissioner Gavin Siebert said previously.
"What we are seeing is people will get a missed call, they'll call us back and it goes through to an ATO officer, which almost legitimises the scammer."
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMMERS
• Know your tax affairs - you can log into myGov to check your tax affairs at any time, or you can contact your 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 to verify
• Know legitimate ways to make payments - scammers may use threatening tactics to trick their victims into paying false debts via prepaid gift cards or by sending money to non-ATO bank accounts. To check that a payment method is legitimate, visit ato.gov.au/howtopay
• Talk to your family and friends about scams - if you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax-related scam, call the ATO as soon as you can.