There’s a new tax scam to be vigilant about and it’s a super easy one to fall for.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging taxpayers to be vigilant following an increase in reports of fake websites offering to provide tax file numbers (TFN) and Australian business numbers (ABN) for a fee, but failing to provide the service.
The fake TFN and ABN services are often advertised on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok and Instagram.
The advertisements offer to obtain a TFN or ABN for a fee. Instead of delivering this service, the scammer uses these fraudulent websites to steal both money and personal information.
It is free, quick and easy to use government services to apply for a TFN through the ATO, or apply for an ABN through the Australian Business Register (ABR).
Those who apply for a TFN or ABN through a tax agent should always check that the tax agent is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.
Tips to protect yourself from scammers
Know your tax affairs
You will be notified about your tax debt before it is due. Check if you have a legitimate debt owed by logging into your myGov account via an independent search, or by calling your tax agent if you have one (on a number sourced independently).
Guard your personal and financial information
Be careful when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments. Only give your personal information to people you trust and don’t share it on social media.
If you are unsure, don’t engage
If a call, SMS or email leaves you wondering if it is genuine, don’t reply. Instead, you should phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it is legitimate. You can also verify or report a scam online at ato.gov.au/scams. You can also visit ScamWatch to get information about scams (not just tax scams).
Know legitimate ways to make payments
Scammers may use threatening tactics to trick their victims into paying fake debts via unusual methods. For example, they might demand pre-paid gift cards or transfers to non-ATO bank accounts. To check that a payment method is legitimate, visit ato.gov.au/howtopay.
Talk to your family and friends about scams
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax-related scam, contact the ATO as soon as you can.