The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has issued an urgent scam warning after it found an increase in reports of fake ATO websites.
These websites impersonating as ATO are stealing “both money and personal information”.
These fake websites offer individuals tax file numbers and Australian business numbers for a fee. However, after registering they do not provide any such service.
“The advertisements offer to obtain a TFN or ABN for a fee. Instead of delivering this service, the scammer uses these fraudulent websites to steal both money and personal information.”
ATO is concerned about this recent increase in the number of victims reporting scams around TFN and ABN applications.
Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh told media that he is concerned about the recent increase in the number of victims reporting TFN and ABN scams.
“Scammers are constantly developing new ways to target the community, and we expect to see more of these malicious attempts to steal identity details in the lead up to tax time. … We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts, or claiming a TFN has been suspended due to fraud.”
In 2021, more than 50,000 people reported ATO impersonation scams with victims losing a total of more than $800,000.
Mr Loh adds:
“We are encouraging everyone to be on alert and take the time to remind family and friends to be on the lookout and stay safe online, so you don’t fall victim to a scam this tax time.”
ATO has alerted social media users who are also being targeted by this scam that is being widely advertised on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Australian residents should know that Tax File Numbers are free and available directly through the ATO, while local businesses must apply for an ABN directly through the Australian Business Register.
If you think a phone call, SMS, voicemail or email claiming to be from ATO is not genuine, do not reply to it. Instead, you should either: phone us on 1800 008 540 or go to Verify or report a scam – to see how to spot and report a scam.