Tax time is one of the busiest times of the year for small business owners. According to the Australian Taxation Office, more than 50,000 scams were reported at tax time last year.
NAB Group Security Advisory & Awareness Manager, Laura Hartley, warned customers to stay alert as criminals may attempt to impersonate the ATO to gain access to individuals’ and businesses’ money and information.
“In 2021, the ATO received over 50,000 reports of scams, with at least $800,000 reported lost,” said Ms Hartley.
“Criminals impersonating the ATO around this time of year are particularly focused on tax refund scams, where scammers say you need to pay a processing fee to have your tax refund released.”
Scammers may also try tricking people into a ‘tax-owed’ scam, where scammers claim you owe a tax debt and that you must pay to avoid being arrested.
“We also see Tax File Number and Australian Business Number (ABN) scams, where fake websites offer to provide a Tax File Number or ABN for a fee, maybe for a refund, but instead they steal your money and personal information,” Ms Hartley said.
Stay protected against tax scams
People can protect themselves against tax scams by being vigilant if they receive a text message or an email or phone call claiming to be from the ATO.
“If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the ATO stating that you’re due a refund, threatening you with arrest or stating that you must pay money to receive a tax refund, hang up,” Ms Hartley said.
“Remember, the ATO will never ask you to pay your tax debt into a non-ATO bank account and they won’t threaten you with an immediate arrest.”
The ATO would also never ask individuals to provide information such as their Tax File Number or credit card details via email or SMS.
“If in doubt, you can call the ATO on the number listed on their official website to confirm if something is legitimate, or you can also ask your accountant.”