Scammers impersonate ATO phone numbers
The Australian Taxation Office is warning about the continuation of unprecedented numbers of pre-recorded phone calls experienced last year which impersonate legitimate tax office phone numbers.
Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said that scammers have adopted ‘Robocall’ technology to target taxpayers across the country. “Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages in record numbers and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer”.
“We are now seeing thousands of Australians missing a call from a scammer, returning the call based on the number on caller ID and speaking to legitimate members of the ATO. Our calls do not show a number on caller ID nor do we use pre-recorded messages.
“If the scammers do make contact, they will request payment of a tax debt – usually through unusual methods like bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers. Legitimate ways to pay your tax debt are listed on our website. The scammers will threaten you with immediate arrest, attempt to keep you on the line until payment is made and may become rude or aggressive.”
The ATO has received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams so far in 2019 with just over $1 million in losses. The technique of displaying misleading phone numbers is known as “spoofing” and is commonly used by scammers in an attempt to make their interactions with taxpayers appear legitimate.
“Taxpayers should be wary of any unexpected phone call, text message or email claiming to be from the tax office. While we may contact you in these ways, if it doesn’t seem right, independently find our phone number and check if the contact was legitimate. If you receive a pre-recorded message claiming to be from us either hang up or simply delete the voicemail,” Mr Siebert said.