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Beware of the Top 4 Tax Scams This Tax Season: Protect Your Finances and Data

scam alert
 

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Tax season is approaching, and scams impersonating the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or other government agencies are on the rise. Scammers take advantage of people's frequent interactions with financial, government, or tax agencies, using identity deception to send fake emails, texts, or calls to obtain personal and financial information. These scams pose threats not only to individuals but also, according to ATO reports, to small and medium-sized enterprises. With the development of artificial intelligence, scam tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated and deceptive, making it more difficult to identify and prevent fraud attempts. Therefore, remaining vigilant this tax season is crucial.


This article outlines four common scam types to watch out for in the financial year (FY23–24) and provides practical tips to avoid falling victim.

Table 1: Monthly comparison of reported ATO impersonation scams
Table 1: Monthly comparison of reported ATO impersonation scams
Email and SMS Scams

The primary aim of email and SMS scams is to lure victims into clicking on links through carefully crafted messages to steal personal information. Common scam messages include:


  • 'You are due to receive an ATO Direct refund'

  • ‘You have a new message in your myGov inbox – click here to view”

  • 'You need to update your details to allow your Tax return to be processed'

  • 'We need to verify your incoming tax deposit'

  • 'ATO Refund failed due to incorrect BSB/Account number'

  • ‘Your income statement is ready, click on the link to view’


Scammers may also use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to deceive, with common tactics such as requiring you to update MFA on your ATO account.


Regardless of the tactic used, these scam messages typically include QR codes, login links, attachments, or file download links. Note that the ATO never includes such guiding information in emails or SMS messages, nor do they ask you to respond to such messages.


Response Strategy: If you receive similar emails or SMS messages, directly log in to your myGov account to verify. Any genuine requests for updates or submissions can be found in your inbox.

scam
Social Media Platform Scams

Scammers may impersonate government official accounts or personnel on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to interact with potential "clients" and gain their trust, subsequently coaxing them into sharing personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and bank details.

  

To avoid these scams, consider: Official government social media accounts are usually verified. Additionally, check account creation dates and follower counts as criteria for judgment. Importantly, government staff or officials will never initiate contact through private messages.

scam
Phone Scams

Many believe phone scams are easily recognizable, but in reality, phone calls are the quickest way to prompt responses and are highly susceptible to deception. Scammers engage directly, gradually convincing victims of their authenticity to obtain personal information. Common phone scam tactics include:


  • Caller ID shows: No Caller ID

  • Threats of immediate arrest, demands for immediate payments, or claims of parcels and documents needing review.

  • Use of genuine ATO, police, immigration, or other government agency numbers or leaving voicemail messages.


Response Strategy: When receiving such calls, consider hanging up and verifying the official phone number online. Avoid confirming authenticity by calling back the number. If the call is indeed from a government agency, their system backend will have records of matters needing verification.


 

As tax season approaches, whether you're an individual or business owner, maintaining heightened vigilance is essential. In this era of rapid information technology development, new scam forms will inevitably emerge. Our role is to identify and avoid falling into these traps as much as possible.


As a professional accounting firm, we are committed to timely updates of such information, aiming to assist and protect our clients and others in need.

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