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Don’t get scammed by fake payment methods at tax time

Priority Level: 
Moderate
24 September 2018

What's happened?

Australians have lost over $224,000 from tax payment scams since June this year, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Beware of requests to make tax payments via unusual methods.

Scammers increase activity around tax time so beware of requests for payments via gift cards (like iTunes cards), Bitcoin, pre-paid Visa cards or transfers into bank accounts not held by the Reserve Bank.

In tax scams, scammers tell you that you need to make a payment to receive a ‘refund’ or threaten you to pay a debt you know nothing about.

Impersonating government agencies or well-known companies is also a common tactic used by online scammers all the time, to trick you into handing over your money or personal information.

How do I stay safe?

Know the status of your tax affairs. You are less likely to fall victim to a scam if you know the details of debts owed, refunds due and lodgements outstanding.

  • You can check these regularly via myGov or by contacting your registered tax agent.

Remember that the ATO will not ask you to make a payment into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank. The ATO does not ask for payments via gift cards such as iTunes cards or via money transfer. The ATO will not demand a payment in Bitcoin or via a pre-paid Visa card.

More information

The ATO will never threaten you with arrest if you don’t pay a debt immediately.

Call your financial institution immediately if you have given your bank or credit card details to a scammer. Most big banks will cover any loss if someone makes an unauthorised transaction on your account, as long as you have protected your client number and passwords.

If you have paid money to a scammer, report it to the authorities. If you have been a victim of a cybercrime such as fraud, report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

If you are ever unsure about a request for information or the validity of an ATO interaction, call the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540 or visit ato.gov.au/scams.

Report suspicious emails claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to ReportEmailFraud [at] ato.gov.au and then delete the email from your inbox.

Learn how to spot and avoid threat-based impersonation scams and online scams.

Check out our tips and advice for staying safe online at tax time at staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime18.