In our increasingly digital world, where convenience and efficiency are at our fingertips, there’s a dark side that we must remain vigilant against: online tax scams. With tax season upon us, cybercriminals step up their efforts to exploit unsuspecting individuals and businesses. This blog aims to shed light on these scams, helping you protect your hard-earned money and personal information.
Understanding Online Tax Scams
Online tax scams come in various forms, but they typically have one common goal: to trick you into revealing sensitive financial information, steal your money, or commit identity theft. Let’s delve into some prevalent tax scams you should be aware of:
Scammers send official-looking emails, often claiming to be from the ATO or a tax preparation company, asking you to verify personal or financial information.
They may lure you with enticing subject lines, such as “Tax Refund Notification” or “Urgent Tax Notice.”
Remember, the ATO never initiates contact through email, and legitimate tax software companies won’t ask for sensitive data via email.
Fake Tax Preparation Websites:
Cybercriminals create fake websites that mimic legitimate tax preparation services.
These sites ask for your personal and financial details, only to misuse them later.
Always double-check the website’s URL and ensure it’s secure (look for “https://” and a padlock symbol).
Robocalls and Phone Scams:
Scammers use automated messages or impersonate ATO agents, threatening legal action or arrest if you don’t pay taxes immediately.
The ATO never demands immediate payment over the phone, nor do they make threats of arrest.
Below is the current communication from the ATO regarding scams;
August – 2023 taxtime SMS and email scams
This tax time, we’re receiving an increased number of reports about several ATO impersonation SMS and email scams. These scams encourage people to click on a link that directs them to fake myGov sign in pages designed to steal their username and password.
Scammers use many different phrases to try and trick recipients into opening these links. These include (but are not limited to):
‘You are due to receive an ATO Direct refund’
‘You have an ATO notification’
‘You need to update your details to allow your Tax return to be processed’
‘We need to verify your incoming tax deposit’
‘ATO Refund failed due to incorrect BSB/Account number’
‘Due to receive a refund, click here to receive a rebate’
Here are some crucial steps to safeguard your finances and personal information:
- Stay Informed: Educate yourself and your family about the latest tax scams. Knowledge is your best defense.
- Verify Communication: If you receive an email or call regarding taxes, independently verify its authenticity. Contact the ATO or relevant organization directly using official contact information.
- Use Reputable Software: When filing taxes online, choose trusted tax preparation software or hire a certified tax professional.
- Secure Your Data: Protect your personal information with strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication. Regularly update your antivirus and anti-malware software.
- Monitor Your Finances: Routinely review bank statements, credit reports, and tax returns for any suspicious activity.
- Report Scams: If you encounter a tax scam, report it to the ATO or Tax Practitioners Board.