Scammers impersonate ATO phone numbers

What’s happened?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning about the continuation of unprecedented numbers of pre-recorded phone calls experienced last year which impersonate legitimate tax office phone numbers.

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.

For more information, please visit: www.staysmartonline.gov.au

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