Go to top of page

Phone scam imitating ATO phone numbers

Priority Level: 
Moderate
4 April 2019

What’s happened?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has reported an increase in the number of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be from the ATO.  

The scammers are sending pre-recorded messages claiming that you have a debt with the ATO, and if you don’t call to arrange payment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. 

The scammers are using technology to manipulate the caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number (otherwise known as ‘spoofing’).

Does it affect me?

Calls are being received by hundreds of Australian taxpayers.    

How do I stay safe?

Calls from the ATO do not show a number on caller ID (they always appear as a private number) and the ATO don’t use pre-recorded messages.

If you receive a pre-recorded message claiming to be from the ATO, do not return the call and do not provide any personal details, either hang up or simply delete the voicemail.

Remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never:

  • threaten you with immediate arrest
  • demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
  • refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted adviser or your regular tax agent
  • keep you on the line until payment is made.

If you are in doubt about a call claiming to be from the ATO, hang up and phone the ATO’s official scam line on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.

More information

Read more about threat-based impersonation scams – including what to do if you have given personal information to a scammer.