The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned about the emergence of a scam where “…scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.”
The refund scam follows a more sinister four phase scam stating there is a warrant out for your arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years. The scam starts with a text message purportedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Within minutes, your mobile rings and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. They then ask for your accountant’s details. You then receive a call purportedly from your ‘accounting firm’ asking you to verify the AFP/ATO claims. Finally, you are provided with a way, if you act quickly, to make the AFP go away by paying a fee before your ‘imminent arrest’.
The ATO states that it will not:
- Send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;
- Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation;
- Request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or
- Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.
Another scam to watch out for is a new phishing scam which sends text messages, purportedly from Medicare, advising the recipient that they are owed a $200 rebate from Medicare. Once the person clicks on the reclaim link, they are asked to provide their personal details including bank account details for the ‘rebate.’