From threatening arrest at a hardware store to impersonating tax officials: The new cons ruthless scammers are using to trick you – and how to avoid them
- Australian Taxation Office has issued a new alert about aggressive scammers
- Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said fake tax debt phone call most common
- Scammers are impersonating tax officials and even Australian Federal Police
Scammers are going to extraordinary lengths to trick unsuspecting Australians by impersonating police and tax officials.
Australian Taxation Office Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said criminals were now getting more aggressive by demanding cash and gift cards as payment for a non-existent tax debt.
‘The most common type of scam is the fake tax debt phone call,’ he said.
‘Scammers will threaten victims with things like arrest if they don’t immediately pay a tax debt.’
Scammers are going to extraordinary lengths to trick unsuspecting Australians by impersonating police and tax officials. Australian Taxation Office Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh (pictured) said criminals were now getting more aggressive by demanding cash and gift cards as payment for a non-existent tax debt
In one case, a young woman in NSW was lured to a local hardware store car park to drop off $30,000 in cash.
A scammer had masqueraded as an Australian Federal Police Officer, who falsely told her that her tax file number had been compromised.
The duped woman provided her driver’s licence and Medicare card details.
In Victoria, a man paid $50,000 to a scammer who visited his front door after demanding over the phone his address with a false promise of getting the money back.
Mr Loh said scammers were now commonly pretending to be tax office officials and were doing this via email and text messages with links to dubious websites designed to look like a MyGov account or the Australian Taxation Office.
‘Never click these links,’ he said.
In one case, a young woman in New South Wales was lured to a local hardware store car park to drop off $30,000 in cash (pictured is a stock image of a Bunnings warehouse car park)
Since July, Australians have been fleeced of $116,300.
During the 2019-20 financial year, there were 63 cases of a scammer impersonating a tax official with victims robbed of close to $1million.
Individuals have until October 31 to lodge their tax return online if they are doing it themselves.
Failure to do so by Halloween means someone faces a $222 fine for each 28-day period beyond this deadline up to a maximum of $1,110.
Tax agents can lodge tax returns on your behalf by May 15, 2022 but taxpayers have to register with an accountant by October 31.
The tax office already receives employer group certificates, banks and private health funds from the end of July, which means individuals no longer have to supply this information linked to a a tax file number.
A scammer had masqueraded as an Australian Federal Police Officer, who falsely told her that her tax file number had been compromised (pictured are NSW Police patrolling Maroubra in Sydney’s south-east)
The tax office is this year targeting Australians who fail to declare cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and exorbitant working-from-home expenses.
Individuals filling out a tax return for 2020-21 can claim a flat 80 cents for every hour they work from home or claim the lower 52 cents-an-hour rate and manually add up phone, internet and electricity expenses.
Tax agent H&R Block said someone who spent a whole financial year working from home typically stood to be able to claim between $2,550 and $2,700 by claiming the lower 52-cent rate compared with $1,536 for the more convenient 80-cent rate.
Work-related items costing up to $300 can be claimed in one year.
Mr Loh cautioned Australians against claiming food on their tax return.
‘You can’t claim anything that’s a personal expense,’ he said.
‘That includes tea, coffee and biscuits, kids’ school books and occupancy costs like rent.’
Anyone who receives a suspicious phone call is advised to hang up and call the tax office on 1800 008 540 to report a scam