The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning about a spike in automated scam calls impersonating the ATO.
This new batch of scammers are claiming they’ve suspended their target’s tax file number (TFN) following suspected fraudulent activity.
Since 1 January 2021, the ATO has received 638 reports of this scam, with 7 victims paying out nearly $118,000.
Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski said that “while the number of people paying these scammers is low, the large amounts being lost per person is alarming”.
“We’re seeing that instead of scammers asking for a specific amount of money, they’re requesting victims transfer every last dollar in their bank account.”
“What’s most malicious, is that in some cases, these scammers are stealing money under the guise of saving it from other fraudsters trying to access their account,” Mr Jakubowski said.
Starting with a robo-call, the two common scripts have been:
> Your TFN has been suspended as scammers have your TFN details. You need to transfer all your money to us in order to protect it while we sort it out, and
> Your TFN has been used illegally and you need to move all the money in your bank account to a holding account pending the outcome of legal action.
Young people between the ages of 18-24 have paid the most under this new tactic, with one person losing $36,000 just this week.
“This is a reminder for everyone to keep their guard up when answering an unexpected call. While we more often hear stories of older Australians being targeted by scammers, these devastating losses show that anyone can be a target,” Mr Jakubowski said.
The ATO does call taxpayers, but will never:
> send unsolicited pre-recorded phone messages
> use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
> suspend your TFN
> request direct transfers of money to a personal bank account
> project our number onto your caller ID
If you receive a call, email or SMS and aren’t sure, it’s OK to hang up or not respond. Instead, phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it was legitimate. You can also report a scam online at ato.gov.au/reportascam.
To see our latest alerts and for more information, visit: ato.gov.au/scams.