With over $2.1 million paid to scammers impersonating the ATO this year, the Tax Office is warning of yet another spike as tax payments deadlines draw near.
The latest ATO scam reports show that 622 taxpayers had paid over $2.1 million to scammers pretending to be from the Tax Office this year alone.
That amount was matched in just three months from November 2018 to January 2019, leading the ATO to issue a high alert.
ATO impersonation scams often increase at the end of the year because scammers take advantage of ATO deadlines during this period to make their claims seem more believable.
ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat is wary of yet another spike in scams this year-end, warning that scammers often exploit key dates to make their threats more believable.
She says scams are becoming much more sophisticated and that anyone who is unsure about the legitimacy of a demand for payment should contact their tax agent.
Ms Foat also warned of the lengths scammers would go to in order to dupe taxpayers, deploying a wide variety of methods at their disposal.
“We see these ATO impersonation scams by phone, email, SMS and even through message apps such as WhatsApp,” Ms Foat said.
“We’ve also recently spotted scammers using the cardless cash feature offered by many banks. Through this feature, victims are sent codes to withdraw cash from an ATM, which they then read out to the scammer.”
“In October, we also saw a spike in email and SMS scams, often asking people to update their personal details. These scams usually contain links to fake online services to get personal information that enables scammers to steal your identity.”
Earlier this year, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commissioner projected scam losses to exceed $532 million by the end of the year, surpassing half a billion dollars for the first time.
In 2018, over $489 million was lost to scammers, with ATO impersonation scams contributing to over $2.8 million in losses.
A total of 114,625 ATO impersonation scams were reported in 2018, with over 21,000 potentially compromised personal identities.
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