Protect Yourself from Tax & Other Scams
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a warning about various tax scams that are currently being circulated and has warned taxpayers to be on the lookout.
In 2015 almost 87,000 phone and email scams were reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), an increase of over 90 per cent from 2014. From January to May this year, the Australian Taxation Office has received over 40,500 phone scam reports. Of these, 226 Australians handed over $1.2 million to fraudsters and over 1,900 gave out some form of personal information, including tax file numbers.
Beyond tax scams, Australian businesses and residents have also been affected by fraud as shown in the below infographic.
The High Cost of Fraud: an Infographic
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned that scammers have been either cold calling individuals or emailing them from email accounts similar to the ATO’s for example ato.com.au instead of ato.gov.au.
The scammers have been claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office or the Department of Public Prosecutions and notifying individuals that they have an outstanding liability with the Australian Taxation Office. The scammers will threaten the individual with gaol time if a payment is not made immediately.
In order to repay the fictional debt the scammers request individuals make payment with a wired transfer, or make payment through iTunes gift cards or Visa prepaid cash cards. The Australian Taxation Office will never request any payment in the form of iTunes gift cards or Visa prepaid cash cards. They will also not request any payment to a personal bank account.
A second scam that is being run is where an email is sent informing individuals that they are entitled to a tax refund. In order to process this refund a ‘processing fee’ is charged by a third-party. The Australian Taxation Office will never charge a ‘processing fee’ or request payment to a third party in order to claim a tax refund.
If you are ever unsure about the correspondence being received from the Australian Taxation Office, ask your tax professional to contact the Australian Taxation Office on your behalf. They will be able to clarify any issues and if there is an outstanding liability they will assist you in organising appropriate payment terms.
For further information contact your financial adviser or tax professional.
Source: Written by Roger Potter, Director of Wybenga & Partners Pty Limited, Chartered Accountants, Sydney
Infographic by Macquarie Bank. Source: http://www.macquarie.com/au/advisers/expertise/smart-practice/high-cost-of-fraud-infographic