ATO warning amid spike in phone tax scams

·2-min read

If you get a call from a robotic voice telling you your tax file number has been suspended and you need to move all your cash to a safer account, don't do it.

The Australian Taxation Office is warning that there's been a spike in fraudsters using robo-calls to impersonate tax authorities and swindle people.

The ATO says most calls claim your TFN has been suspended or compromised and order you to transfer your money to a safer account, which is run by fraudsters.

The ploy has now been tried more than 600 times and unfortunately seven people have fallen for it.

Scammers have already made off with $118,000 already with one unlucky victim handing over $36,000.

"While the number of people paying these scammers is low, the large amounts being lost per person is alarming," Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski said.

"We're seeing that instead of scammers asking for a specific amount of money, they're requesting victims transfer every last dollar in their bank account."

He said it was malicious that fraudsters were now stealing money under the guise of saving victims from other scammers trying to access their accounts.

Jakubowski said the victims who had lost the largest amounts of money had unexpectedly been younger people aged 18-24.

"This is a reminder for everyone to keep their guard up when answering an unexpected call," Mr Jakubowski said.

"While we more often hear stories of older Australians being targeted by scammers, these devastating losses show that anyone can be a target."

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ATO AND SCAMMERS:

- The ATO won't contact you with pre-recorded phone messages out of the blue

- ATO staff will never be rude or aggressive over the phone

- ATO staff don't threaten people with arrest, jail or deportation

- The ATO can't suspend your tax file number

- The ATO will never ask for you to transfer money to a personal bank account

- The ATO's number will never appear on your called ID.

(Source: Australian Taxation Office)