With tax season upon us, the Office of Fair Trading is reminding Queenslanders to never give out bank details or credit card numbers after answering the phone, even if being offered an incentive like a larger or quicker tax refund.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the OFT often received reports at this time of year from Queenslanders who had received phone calls supposedly from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
“If you receive a phone call and you are unsure if it’s legitimate or not, never give away personal information such as bank details, credit card numbers or even addresses,” Mr Bauer said.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
“Scammers can be very good at sounding legitimate, and tempting you with fake incentives.
“If in doubt, ask the caller for their name and the organisation they work for, end the phone call and call the organisation back using the phone number listed on their website or in the phone book.”
The OFT recommends the following to minimize the risk of becoming a phone scam victim:
Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions over the phone. A scammer may try to create a sense of urgency, by creating a deadline or threats of legal action.
Don’t give your banking details or tax file number to a stranger over the phone.
Always be cautious of ‘government agencies’ calling you to say you are entitled to money, as most will write. Get enough information on the organisation and the caller and then find independent contact details so you can check the legitimacy of what you have been told.
Get a second opinion. If someone is requesting money from you and you have any doubts, discuss it with a trusted and reliable third party.
Contact the ATO if you receive a tax-related email or SMS you think is a scam. Be alert to spelling errors, grammatical errors, and incorrect phone numbers.
Never, under any circumstances, direct deposit money into the account of a person or business you don’t know. If you have, call your bank immediately.
Remember, the ATO will not threaten you with immediate arrest, or ask you to:
pay money to receive a refund or payment
pay a debt via pre-paid credit cards, store gift cards, or iTunes vouchers
provide personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN), via email or SMS
pay money into a personal bank account
open attachments in unsolicited emails or download files from the internet.
If you think you have been a victim of a tax-related scam, call 1800 008 540 or forward the email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.