Scam alert issued after reports of fake ATO calls

ATO scam
A local financial advisory firm has warned residents not to fall for a scam impersonating the Australian Tax Office (ATO)

A local financial advisory firm has warned against scammers impersonating the Australian Tax Office (ATO) after reports of suspicious activity.

Ulton Chairman of Partners Daryl Corpe said an increasing number of reports had been lodged with the ATO and clients had informed the firm of concerns directly.

According to the report, the ATO scam involves fraudsters contacting members of the public pretending to be from the tax office and claiming that there are outstanding tax debts. They are threatening people with arrest if the debt is not paid immediately.

“There’s been a growing number of taxpayers being contacted by scammers, pretending to be the ATO or falsely representing their tax agent or accountant,” Mr Corpe said.

“Red flags to watch out for include: threatening arrest; demanding immediate payment particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards; refusing you the opportunity to speak with a trusted adviser or your regular tax agent; or presenting a phone number or business name on caller ID.

“These scammers are getting very sophisticated and unfortunately innocent people are getting caught in their rouse.

“If you are in any doubt about an ATO call, hang up and phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check if the call or text was legitimate or to report a scam. Alternatively, contact your tax advisor to report the call and check its legitimacy.”

You can also report a scam to ATO online.

ATO scam looks legitimate

Scammers are using technology to make it look like the calls originate from a legitimate ATO or tax advisor phone number.

This number or the business name may appear on caller ID, be left on voice mail messages for call backs, or directed by *69 for call back functionality. Scammers do this to make the calls seem more valid when they call people a second time.