There’s a lot to love about tax time – it’s a chance to sort your tax return, square things with the Tax Office and pocket a welcome tax refund!
The downside is that scammers love tax time too, and they often rely on us making simple mistakes to raid our bank accounts or steal our identity.
Here are three scams to be on the lookout for this tax time.
Social media accounts impersonating the Tax Office.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says an increasing number of fake social media accounts spanning Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram are popping up that impersonate the ATO1.
These fake accounts ask users to send a direct message so they can help with an enquiry.
The reality is that the people behind these fake accounts are trying to steal your personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses and bank account details.
There are several ways to check if a social media account genuinely belongs to the ATO:
- Check how many people follow the account: The ATO’s verified Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have over 200,000 followers, and their Twitter account has over 65,000 followers.
- Check activity on the accounts: The ATO’s social media channels have been operating for around 10 years – if it's a newly created account, or only has a few posts, it's not the ATO.
- Look for .gov.au. Emails from the ATO always end with ‘.gov.au’.
Tax refund scams.
The warning bells should start ringing if you receive an email or SMS saying you're owed a refund and asking you to click a link to complete a form.
Clicking the link takes you to a fake ATO webpage that asks for your personal information, including your credit card details. If you hand these details over, you’re giving crooks access to your accounts.
The ATO says it will never send you an SMS with a link to log-in to its online services. Similarly, the ATO will never ask for your credit card details.
If you’re unsure whether a message is really from the ATO, don’t reply. Phone the Tax Office on 1800 008 540 to check if the email or SMS is real or a scam.
myGov tax time scams.
Services Australia2 is warning that scammers are contacting people pretending to be from myGov or Services Australia, often with a message about a tax rebate or your tax return.
Scammers might say:
- you can get a payment, tax rebate or other type of refund,
- there is a problem with your tax return or myGov account,
- there’s been a change to your myGov account or it has inaccurate information, or
- your myGov account is about to be frozen or suspended.
The common thread is that the scammers ask you to click a link or provide details so they can steal your personal information.
To check if the message is fake, head to your myGov Inbox at my.gov.au or use the official myGov app.
How to keep your accounts safe.
We’re all keen to get our tax return completed and get the ball rolling on a tax refund. But scammers often rely on that enthusiasm for us to make mistakes or oversights.
Sticking to a few basics can help you keep your money and personal identity safe.
Firstly, be very protective about your personal details. If you receive an SMS or email out of the blue, do not click on any links until you have checked that the message is from a trusted source such as the ATO.
If you have any doubts about a message, head online to find the consumer contact number for the organisation and give them a call. Do not use the phone number or contact details in the SMS or email.
Be wary about giving away too many personal details in social media, and maintain high privacy settings.
What to do if you are receive a suspicious email or SMS.
If you receive an SMS or email from the ATO that you think is fraudulent, report it by sending an email to ReportScams@ato.gov.au.
If you receive an SMS or email that looks like it’s from myGov but it contains a link or appears suspicious, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep your bank accounts safe.
Always treat your bank account and credit card account PINs and passwords as top secret. Use a strong password and two-factor authentication, and don't use the same password for multiple services or websites.
Important note: This information is of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by you as advice in any particular matter. You should contact us at Defence Bank to discuss how this information may apply to your circumstances.