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How to Spot a Scam

It can be difficult to spot a scam these days, especially when they come in all different forms of email, SMS, phone calls and now just to add into the mix social media messages! With the increased intelligence of fraudsters, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is still seeing instances where a scam can come across as being very convincing resulting in money or personal information being stolen from individuals.

To avoid becoming a victim, the ATO has put together a list of some of the most common characteristics to help identify a scam.

Scam communications:

  • are unsolicited and received out of the blue

  • are pushy and can be intimidating, threatening arrests or penalties if payment for an unknown tax debt is not made immediately

  • demand payment in full and in some instances via unconventional means such as preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or cash transfers

  • ask you for your personal or financial information or to confirm information they pretend they have

  • are often poorly worded, containing spelling and grammatical mistakes

  • may promise you a tax refund in exchange for a payment or personal information

  • may contain an attachment or fake links requesting you to lodge a form – opening these attachments or links can cause you to download malware or ransomware.

  • If a scammer or someone claiming to be from the ATO has contacted you and you are unsure of the legitimacy, let the ATO know.

For phone scams you should:

  • hang up immediately

  • call the ATO's dedicated scam reporting line 1800 008 540 between 8.00am–6.00pm EST, Monday to Friday.

For email scams you should:

  • refrain from clicking on links or opening attachments

  • forward the email to the ATO via and delete immediately

The ATO also publishes a list of known scams as scam alerts.

Should you have any doubt as to the source of correspondence you've received then please contact the Australian Taxation Office or follow the links below:

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