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In recent times, we have heard a disturbing increase in the number of stories from both clients and colleagues alike, regarding phone scams involving perpetrators claiming to be from the ATO.
The most recent aggressive scam attempts are from people who are phoning home phone or mobile numbers and trying to force victims into paying a fake tax debt over the phone, sometimes threatening arrest, bankruptcy or defaults. Members of the general public should know that whilst the ATO and its debt collection agencies do phone taxpayers on occasion, they will never phone aggressively or in a threatening manner, and often they will contact your tax agent (namely your Accountant) first. You will generally receive a letter before any phone contact is made; although this is not always the case.
If you receive one of these calls, do not provide any personal information to the caller. If you do receive a call from the ATO and you feel it could be legitimate, simply ask the caller for a return phone number and reference so that you can phone them back. The ATO and their debt collection agencies are very understanding of this and will oblige.
Similarly, scammers are still attempting to send fake ‘phishing’ scam emails to unsuspecting victims. If you receive an email from the ATO regarding an unpaid tax debt or a refund where you only need to provide your bank details for a payment you are unaware of, it is important that you delete this. The ATO will never ask for your bank account details via email.