In 2015 a whopping 87,000 tax scam incidents were reported according to the ATO. Most Queenslanders are good at spotting a scam when things just don’t feel right. But the ATO warns us that this year there’s likely to be more, and they’re becoming more creative in convincing you. As income tax professionals here at ITP Queensland we can help you detect the difference between a legitimate interaction with the ATO and a tax scam.
So, what are the red flags to look out for?
Red Flag: Avoid people asking for payments over the phone. If they can’t provide the request in an official letter there is likely a scam afoot. Similarly, if they can’t specify what the payment is for or if the tax jargon they use sounds broad and irrelevant to your assets and income it’s time to put the phone down.
What to do: Advise them to provide something in writing but do not give out your contact details. Leave it at that and terminate the call. They would already have your details on file if they aren’t a scam.
Red Flag: Sometimes they might actually mention details about yourself without you verifying any security questions first. If their tone of voice doesn’t feel right and they’re quoting details about yourself to you that you don’t remember reporting to the ATO keep wary.
What to do: Ask yourself if this is information you have given away on a social media profile. Highly intrusive scammers are getting creative, and with social media sharing more of our private lives they have the access to do their research.
Red Flag: We’ve all had a rude customer service person on the phone – but if the person speaking with your or leaving voice messages uses threatening language, an inappropriate tone or even salesman-like tactics this is a clear red flag. Phrases like “serious consequences”, “we demand” and other high pressure ultimatums are signs to look out for.
What to do: Politely advise you are busy right now and terminate the call. Save the number in your phone so you know it is them if they attempt to call you again. If it’s a voicemail don’t delete it, but keep it as evidence if you need to report it to the ATO.
Red Flag: Emails that show up in your spam folder, ask for your sensitive details or have email addresses that don’t seem official are best to be avoided.
What to do: Don’t respond to the email but keep it saved if you need to report it to the ATO.
In any situation, it’s best to book in with your nearest ITP office. They can help you get the best overview of your assets and finances so you know exactly what is going on. They’ll also be able to detect the difference between a real interaction with the ATO or a potential scam.
Want to verify if an interaction was a scam or have one to report?
Follow the ATO’s link here
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