NAB issues warning on tax scams in fight against cybercriminals

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NAB is urging hard-working Australians to remain alert for scams impersonating the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as the end of the financial year approaches.

The warning comes as NAB ramps up its own fight against scammers, adding more than 50 people to its fraud and scams team since October last year and taking action on spoofing scams that impersonate NAB’s phone numbers and infiltrate the bank’s text message threads.

The ATO has received almost 20,000 reports of tax scams in 2022-23. That’s an average of approximately 360 reports per month.

Scams impersonating the ATO are expected to spike in the weeks before and after June 30.

NAB’s Scam Awareness Lead Tessa Bowles said it is vital Australians know how to see through tax scams.

“At this time of year, criminals are thinking about how to get your tax returns,” Ms Bowles said.

“Current cost of living pressures mean tax returns will be front of mind for many Australians hoping for a refund, and no one ever wants to lose their hard-earned money to criminals. That’s why being alert to the issue is so important.

“These scams often involve criminals claiming you need to pay a processing fee or provide your personal details to have your tax refund released.

“Scammers may also try to trick people into thinking they owe a tax debt and must pay to avoid being arrested.”

Text and email are the most common contact methods scammers use when imitating the ATO.

“The number of phone calls impersonating the ATO in June last year was double the monthly average,” said Ms Bowles, who has worked in security education, investigations and fraud for seven years.

“These phone calls can often be quite aggressive and threatening, but it’s important to remember the ATO will never threaten anyone with immediate arrest.

“That’s why the best defence against tax scams is Australians who are curious and educated.

“Never feel pressured into making a payment and contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed.”

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.

NAB’s action on tackling scams and fraud

  • Introducing payments prompts to digital banking to encourage customers to pause before they pay.
  • Collaborating with telecommunications providers to prevent spoofing scams.
  • Adding 50 people to the Scams and Fraud team since October 2022 so customers can speak to someone faster.
  • Using BioCatch technology in digital channels to help identify fraudulent activity.
  • 24/7 customer account monitoring for signs of suspicious activity.
  • Since October 2022, NAB has issued more than nine million emails to personal customers and 500,000 emails to business customers containing scam education.
  • Free monthly webinars that all Australians can attend.
  • Free and discounted anti-virus software offers for customers.

Tips on how to see through tax scams

  • Stay on top of your tax affairs. If you have a tax debt, you’ll know about it before it’s due. Log into your myGov account via an independent search to see if you have a legitimate debt or will receive a refund.
  • Hang up if you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the ATO saying you must pay money to receive a tax refund.
  • Remember, the ATO won’t threaten you with immediate arrest or speak in an abusive manner.
  • Remember, the ATO will never ask you to pay a tax debt into a non-ATO bank account.
  • The ATO will never ask individuals to provide information such as their Tax File Number or credit card details via emails, SMS or social media.

Check out NAB’s latest Phish of the Month about tax time scams on Instagram.

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