No 52: Tax scammers impersonating Tax Agents demanding payments of fake ATO debts

The ATO has just released a Taxpayer Alert regarding the latest scam techniques used to defraud taxpayers.

Recently, the scammers have begun to impersonate Tax Agents in attempt to build legitimacy to their phone calls.  The scammers will coerce the victim into releasing the Tax Agent’s name and then initiate a three-way phone conversation between the scammer, the victim and another scammer impersonating the Tax Agent.  The scammers would then proceed to intimidate the victim into making immediate payments of ‘tax’ debt including threatening them with arrest and to make payments by unusual methods such as Bitcoin and store gift cards.

This is the most recent of methods scammers have utilised against taxpayers.  Late last year, the ATO released a warning which informed us that scammers were using letters, emails and telephone calls.  Scammers often accused the victim of having years of unpaid taxes and used official-sounding legislation to add legitimacy. Emails sent from scammers would use false attachments and claim missed payment deadlines to create a sense of urgency so that the victim would be inclined to view links attached to the email directing them to fake websites which would contain malware or ransomware.

The ATO has reaffirmed that they would never:

  • Demand immediate payments
  • Threaten you with arrest
  • Request payment by unusual means such as Bitcoin, store gift cards or iTunes cards.

Unfortunately, there is very little which can be done to prevent these scams as the criminals involved are usually based overseas.  As your Tax Agent, all contact from the ATO regarding your tax matters should come via our office.  The ATO does not make telephone contact seeking payment of a tax debt without writing to taxpayers.

If you receive a suspicious phone call, please hang up immediately.  Please inform us immediately of any direct contact with anyone purporting to be from the ATO and we will seek to verify whether it is genuine.