This tax time, if you hear the following words on the other end of the phone, hang up immediately.
“As per our recent audit, we have identified incorrect sorted tax filings, and we regret to inform you that your account has been marked delinquent on account of tax avoidance.”
It’s all part of a scam, audio of which has been released by Consumer Affairs Victoria in an effort to prevent Australians from falling victim.
Using a robotic, pre-recorded voice, the message urges the recipient to contact the Australian Taxation Office or risk being arrested for unpaid taxes.
“As our letters sent to your registered address have also returned unsigned, and undelivered resulting into [sic] a petition note to be filed against your name, including a warrant for your arrest,” the voice says.
“Now before the case is sent for execution, and you receive the legal course of notification, to reach our concerned officer call on 03 83 XXX 630. The number again, 03 83 XXX 630. Resolve your matter immediately.”
Between July and October last year more than 48,000 scams were reported to the ATO, and as of last month, over 17,000 had been reported so far in 2017.
“The sad thing is, we know of more than 100 people who handed more $1.5 million to fraudsters,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson last month. “As well as that, over 2500 people gave out some of their personal information.”
Unfortunately, more are likely to be hoodwinked this tax time.
“The scammers are clever; lately they’ve been imitating genuine ATO phone numbers and projecting them on to caller IDs. It’s spoofing and it’s designed to make you think they are the ATO,” Anderson said.
“The best way to protect yourself is to be alert and weary of any emails, phone calls and SMS that claim to be from the ATO.”
In sharing the scam voicemail, Consumer Affairs Victoria hopes to remind people that the ATO will never:
- threaten immediate arrest;
- ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment;
- ask you to provide personal information, including your tax file number and credit card details, via SMS or email;
- ask you to pay money into a personal bank account;
- direct you to download files from the internet or open attachments on unsolicited emails.
If you receive a suspicious call or email claiming to be from the ATO, you can verify the caller or sender by contacting the ATO on 1800 008 540.
To report a scam, visit the Scam Watch website here.