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ATO Warns Tax Payers of Scammers
Tax Office Assistant Commissioner Janine Clark warns the public of this new modus operandi used by fraudsters. Multiple reports have been received by the Australia Tax Office (ATO) of scammers calling taxpayers and identifying themselves as representatives of the ATO demanding for iTunes gift cards as payment for a tax debt.
“In April 2016, of the 8,692 phone scam reports we received were in relation to the fake ATO tax debt scam; 58 reports mentioned the scammer demanding payments by iTunes,” says Clark. Unfortunately, 26 individuals were tricked into paying iTunes gift cards worth up to almost $175,000.
“By the time these scams are reported to us, the cards have already been on-sold or redeemed by the scammers. The scammers don’t need the actual physical card. They just need the gift card number, which they get victims to read over the phone. The representative from ATO also noted that there were also reports of scammers requesting pre-paid Visa gift cards as “payments” for tax debts.
“What we’re most concerned about is that vulnerable Australians who have little interaction with us are not only being led to believe this is a legitimate request for payment from the ATO, but they are giving out personal information such as their tax file numbers,” says Clark. Scammers who have details such as these make victims even more vulnerable to fraud and identity theft.
Assistant Commissioner Clark reiterates that the ATO “will never request the payment of a tax debt via gift or pre-paid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards. Nor will we ask for direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account. And if the person calling you is rude and aggressive, threatening police or legal action if you don’t do something immediately—it’s not the ATO.”
If you feel that there are some irregularities or would want to confirm the validity of a call from ATO, you can contact the Tax Office at 1800 008 540 or report scams here.
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