On the 13th Day of Christmas …

Hello Chasers,

The Christmas Season always brings the scammers out of the woodwork as they try to ‘fleece’ hard-earned cash from the vulnerable as well as unsuspecting business owners.

In the lead up to Christmas the Australian Tax Office (ATO) are warning the public of ongoing reports of tax debt scams, reminding the public to be careful if they receive a strange call about their tax.

The scammers will often call or leave a recorded message on your phone, advising of a tax debt and that if you don’t pay it straight away, you’ll be arrested.

If you’re ever unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, hang up. You can phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check.

These mischievous elves are also impersonating us, tax agents!

The ATO receives increasing reports of a new take on the ‘fake tax debt’ scam, whereby scammers are impersonating registered tax agents to lend legitimacy to their phone call.

The fraudsters do this by coercing the victim into revealing their agent’s name and then initiating a three-way phone conversation between the scammer, the victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim’s registered tax agent or someone from the agent’s practice.

As the phone conversations with the scammers appeared legitimate and the victims trusted the advice of the scammer ‘tax agent’, victims have been falling for this new approach.

In a recent example, a victim withdrew thousands of dollars in cash and deposited it into a Bitcoin ATM, fearing that police had a warrant out for their arrest.

The ATO is reminding taxpayers that they 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.

We advise that if you are suspicious about a phone call from someone claiming to be the ATO, then you should disconnect and call the ATO or us to confirm the status of their tax affairs and verify the call.

Please bear in mind that we will always be the first port of call from the ATO with queries regarding your tax affairs and obligations – including audits!

If you haven’t been notified by us of impending action by the ATO then any other contact regarding the ATO will be bogus – don’t fall for ‘Bad Santa’ or his mischievous elves.

You can also check the tips at www.ato.gov.au/scams to find out more about scammers’ methods and how you can tell if it’s really the ATO calling.

Remember, when in doubt give Ceebeks a shout!

Have a great day!

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