09 August 2016 - Eva Bonner

Tax time is prime time for scams

The ATO is reminding Australians to be on the lookout for tax-related scams during tax time, as scammers are particularly active because of the large number of people lodging their tax returns.

Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said that, while most people were able to identify scams, it is important to remain alert during tax time.

For example, although the ATO makes thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers a week, there are some key differences between a legitimate call from the ATO and a call from a potential scammer:

“We would never cold call you about a debt; we would never threaten jail or arrest, and our staff certainly wouldn’t behave in an aggressive manner.  If you’re not sure, hang up and call us back on 1800 008 540”.

ATO also warns against identity theft

The ATO is also reminding Australians to protect themselves against identify theft this tax time.  Highly organised crime networks use a range of methods to steal personal information in order to commit refund fraud.

The ATO recommends following a few easy steps for taxpayers to protect themselves against identity theft:

  • Put a padlock on their letterbox;
  • Shred documents containing personal details (especially their tax file number (TFN)) before throwing them away;
  • Use legitimate and up-to-date antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware software; and
  • Make sure passwords are strong, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, don’t share them with anyone, and ensure they are changed regularly.

The ATO also says that taxpayers should report the loss or theft of their TFN without delay, if they can’t find their TFN, and/or think their TFN has been stolen or misused.

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