SCAMS: the modern term for the age-old activity of obtaining money by deception

SCAMS: the modern term for the age-old activity of obtaining money by deception

In an age where there is increasing reliance on digital technology to conduct our daily financial affairs, scammers have greater opportunities to try and trick you into paying money or providing personal information by impersonating trusted organisations such as the ATO.

Scammers use the phone, email and SMS and social media as ways of contact but there are some common warning signs that can be used to help you identify if the contact is likely to be a scam.

For phone scams they include:

  • threatening immediate arrest
  • demanding payment right away and keeping you on the line until you do so
  • saying there will be a warrant for your arrest if you hang up on them
  • sending unsolicited pre-recorded messages or leaving messages on your voicemail asking you to call back
  • telling you there is a problem with your tax file number (TFN) and they can assist you to resolve it
  • requesting payment by using vouchers, gift cards or crypto currency

For email and SMS scams:

  • Asking for personal and financial institution details through a return SMS or email
  • Clicking on a link in the SMS or email to log on to an online service
  • Clicking on a link to download forms or attachments which may then be used to install malicious software

The ATO does not use threats, nor do they send/use links in emails or SMS messages to log on to services or request personal details.

Social media scams, where the scammers create fake social media accounts and then send requests for personal identifying information, are becoming more common and sophisticated.

The ATO does have genuine accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin with built-in verification features.

Some things to watch for here are:

  • Slight variations in the ATO name or logo
  • Grammatical errors or typos in messages

It is important that any suspicious activity be reported to the ATO by phone on 1800 008 540.

In the event that you have provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer by any means you should also:

  • Make an official report to your local police
  • Contact your bank if you provided credit card or bank details
  • Contact the bank the payment was made to and lodge a fraud report

It is only by reporting this malicious activity that the perpetrators can be identified and dealt with.

For further information about scams and how to report them please contact our office.