The Australian Taxation Office is warning us to be on our guard with over 37,000 people reporting phone and email scams over unpaid tax debts in November.
Most of these scams have taken place over the phone, with people receiving a call directly from an aggressive scammer or a voice message telling them to call a phone number in relation to an outstanding tax debt or face arrest and jail time.
People are told to buy gift cards like iTunes or Google Play to ‘pay’ the debt or a fine or send money by other methods such as Bitcoin ATMs or pre-paid credit cards.
In one case, one person lost more than $236,000 between June and November.
So how can you protect yourself?
- If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the Commonwealth DPP or Australian Taxation Office telling you about an arrest warrant, hang up or delete the email.
- If you’re unsure about the identity of a caller who claims to be from a government department, ring them directly.
- Don’t give out your personal or bank account details over the phone unless you made the call and checked the source of the phone number.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can also report a scam to the ATO on 1800 008 540 or online here.