Urgent warning over cruel new ATO scam that’s very hard to detect: Here’s how to prevent getting tricked
- Criminals are infiltrating ATO Facebook page
- They are pretending to be tax office reps
- The ATO never asks for personal information on Facebook
Australians have been warned to be on high alert for a devious scam in which criminals impersonate Australian Tax Office (ATO) workers.
The federal government has sounded the alarm that fraudsters are pretending to be tax office agents on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to gain access to people’s information.
The fraud begins when scammers sneak into the comments sections of the tax office’s Facebook page to find potential victims.
Using fake ATO profiles they then directly contact those taxpayers who have complained or asked questions online, offering to resolve their issues.
Having won their trust, the criminals ask the taxpayers to click on a link which asks for personal information.
Australians have been warned to be on high alert for a devious scam in which criminals are impersonating the Australian Tax Office
The ATO posted a video to its Facebook page explaining one important difference between its posts and messages from scammers on fake ATO profiles – the dodgy ones are mising a verification tick
In response, the ATO has posted a video to its Facebook page explaining that the scammers can be recognised because they do not have Facebook’s official blue verification tick next to their title.
The cruel trick is the latest in a growing list of ATO frauds cyberthieves are continually attempting. Others include fake messages about tax refunds, tax debts and superannuation
What to do about fake ATO messages
The ATO says if you receive what you believe to be a fake call, email or message, do not reply.
Instead report it to the ATO on 1800 008 540.
The ATO points out that faked ATO profiles and accounts do not carry an official blue verification tick – so look out for it.
The tax office will never ask for personal information over social media.
It will never send links that ask you to fill out your personal information like your tax file number, myGov log in or bank account details.
Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones described the scam as ‘insidious’ because of how convincing the faked ATO profiles are.
He said Australians must exercise ‘extreme caution’ when engaging with the ATO on social media.
Mr Jones clarified how people could protect themselves against fake ATO scams.
‘The tax office will never ask for personal information over social media and never send links that ask you to fill out your personal information like your tax file number, myGov log in or bank account details,’ he said.
Scammers have faked ATO communications for several years now as they try to trick the public.
Among the scam methods are: dodgy tax refund SMS messages, fake tax lodgement emails, phone and email scams related to superannuation, and bullying calls threatening legal action if a tax debt is not paid immediately.
The ATO urges anyone who believes they have received a fake ATO phone call, SMS, voicemail or email to not reply to it.
Instead, you should either: phone the ATO on 1800 008 540, or go to the tax office’s verify or report a scam page to see how to spot and report a scam.