New Trends in ATO Scams
The ATO has noticed an alarming new trend in scam activity involving scammers impersonating TAX and BAS agents. This new scam is effective because clients are trusting of their representatives, so you need to encourage your clients to take care.
In a twist on the ‘fake tax debt’ scam, we have received increasing reports of a new scam method where scammers impersonate registered agents to lend legitimacy to their phone call.
The fraudsters do this by:
coercing the victim into revealing their agent's name; and
initiating a three-way phone conversation between the scammer, the victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim's registered agent or someone from the agent's practice.
Victims have fallen for this new approach. In one recent example, a victim withdrew thousands of dollars in cash and deposited it into a Bitcoin ATM, fearing police had a warrant out for their arrest. The phone conversation with the scammers appeared legitimate, and the victim trusted the advice of the scammer ‘tax agent’.
What You Can Do
Help protect your reputation, your clients' information and their money from these scammers. Let your clients know we will never:
demand immediate payments;
threaten them with arrest; or
request payment by unusual means such as iTunes vouchers, store gift cards or Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
If your client is suspicious about a phone call from someone claiming to be us, the ATO recommends they disconnect and call 1800 008 540 to verify the call.
Alternatively, your client can hang up the call and contact you directly to confirm the status of their tax affairs.
The ATO have already shared information about the scam through the media, including television, radio and social media. To spread the warning message to your clients, you may consider sharing the ATO and ICB social media posts with your clients.