Several scams involving the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and NBN have been reported to Echonetdaily recently with people having lost over $1 million this year. The key to not being scammed is to never give a caller any personal information over the phone.
The ATO has now sent out a warning that there has been an unprecedented number of pre-recorded phone calls experienced over the last year that impersonate legitimate tax office phone numbers.
Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said that scammers have adopted ‘Robocall’ technology to target taxpayers across the country.
‘Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages in record numbers and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer,’ he said.
‘We are now seeing thousands of Australians missing a call from a scammer, returning the call based on the number on caller ID and speaking to legitimate members of the ATO. Our calls do not show a number on caller ID nor do we use pre-recorded messages.’
Threats of immediate arrest, deportation or jail, bullying and rude behaviour with requests for payment of tax through unusual methods including bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers are key indicators that you have a scammer on the line. The ATO has received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams so far in 2019 (and that doesn’t include the ones I’ve received).
If you have been contacted and are concerned that it is a legitimate call hang up and independently find a number for the tax office and call them on a recognised line for confirmation.
The ATO’s dedicated scam reporting line is 1800 008 540. To see the latest alerts and for more information visit ato.gov.au/scams.
Similarly people have been receiving calls from scammers who pretend they are from NBN who attempt to con people out of their personal information. They offer to give people a cheap signup deal or tell them have problems with their computers and ‘help’ them by talking them through changes to their computer set up that gives the scammers remote access to the victims’ computers.
This scam has been going on for a number of years and according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) people over 65 are particularly vulnerable.
‘NBN will never phone you out of the blue to try to sign you up to a service over its network. NBN is a wholesaler meaning they don’t sell direct to the public. If you get an unsolicited call like this, it’s a big red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer,’ ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard has said previously.
If you have had a call from a suspected scammer independently find a number to call the company back on and check if the call was legitimate. Never hand out your personal information to someone who has called you. You can check for the latests scams online at Scamwatch.