How to avoid tax time scams

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With more than 1,800 impersonation scams reported to the ATO each month, NAB is urging hard-working Australians and small businesses to remain vigilant for tax scams.

Data shows the ATO received 22,000 reports of scams impersonating the government department in the past 12 months. Reports increased 34% between March and April this year.

To help you identify the red flags, we’ve listed common types of tax scams below.

ATO impersonation scam

A red flag of a tax impersonation scam is being asked to click on a link in a text message that says it’s from the ATO. Like NAB, the ATO does not send links in text messages.

Another red flag is urgency to act quickly. You might get an email or SMS claiming you have an ATO notification, you need to verify your incoming tax deposit or need to update your BSB and account number.

Tax refund scams

One of the biggest red flags of a tax time scam is scammers contact you claiming that you’re owed a tax refund, and that they need your personal details and a processing fee to release your funds.

Tax owed scams

Scammers contact you claiming that you have a tax debt, and demand that you pay the debt to avoid being arrested. They may ask you to pay by credit card, money transfer, gift cards, or using a pre-paid debit card.

Tax advice scams

Scammers pose as the ATO on social media and offer help with tax and super questions.

Tax File Number (TFN) and Australian Business Number (ABN) scams

Fake websites offer to provide TFN and ABNs for a fee, but fail to provide the service. Instead, they steal your money and personal information.

The fake TFN and ABN services are often advertised on social media sites. TFN and ABNs are free (however if your tax agent or accountant assists with an ABN application, they may charge a fee for their services). Learn more about how to protect yourself against tax scams at the NAB Security hub.

Red flags for email and text scams

If you receive an email or text message claiming to be from the ATO asking for personal or financial information, do not respond.

Think before you click or give out any information. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking links in unsolicited emails or suspicious text messages.

Red flags for phone call scams

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the ATO stating that you’re due a refund, threatening you with immediate arrest or stating that you must pay money to receive a tax refund, hang up.

If you receive a call asking for personal or banking information, hang up and call the organisation back using a publicly listed number. For example, NAB’s number is on our website and on the back of NAB cards.

Red flags for TFN and ABN scams

It is free, quick and easy to use government services to apply for a TFN, through the ATO, or apply for an ABN, through the Australian Business Register (ABR). There is no need to go through a third party other than your accountant or tax agent.

Get a second opinion

It’s important to talk to your family about these scams. Tell them to ‘ask out loud’ for a second opinion from a friend or family member if someone contacts them unexpectedly asking for information.

Contact the ATO directly

If you’re unsure if a message claiming to be from the ATO is legitimate, log in to MyGov independently or call the ATO on the number listed on their website.

For more information on Tax Scams visit the NAB Security Hub

NAB offers free online security webinars for personal and business customers as well as the community. The one-hour session covers the latest scams and cyber security trends and advice about how to protect yourself. Visit nab.com.au/security for more information. 

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