Expert tips to avoid being scammed at tax time

- June 25, 2024 2 MIN READ

Scams are getting craftier every year, especially around tax time. If you want to avoid falling victim, CPA Australia has some advice to help you stay ahead of the scammers.

First off, always pause and think before handing over any personal information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, and it’s essential to be cautious. According to CPA Australia, young Australians, particularly those aged 25-34, are the most likely to be duped by ATO impersonation scammers. But in reality, everyone is a potential target.

Common scams to watch out for

On CPA Australia’s with interest podcast, Joda Walter, the ATO’s assistant commissioner of cyber governance, shared that one of the most prevalent scams involves ATO-branded SMS and emails with links to fake mygov websites. These scams look incredibly authentic, so how can you tell the difference?

Spotting the fakes

Check for errors: Grammatical mistakes or unusual language in emails and SMS messages can be a red flag.

Look for links: The ATO no longer includes hyperlinks in unsolicited SMS messages. If you see a link or QR code, it’s likely a scam.

Verify the sender: Examine the sender’s email address. Even a slight deviation, like an extra letter or a number, can indicate a scam.

Be suspicious of urgent requests: The ATO will never ask for sensitive information like passwords or account numbers via email or SMS.

Social media scams: Fake ATO or mygov accounts on social media, especially Facebook and X (formerly twitter), are common. Check for the official logo and verification ticks (blue on Facebook and Instagram, grey on X).

What to do if you’re unsure

If you’re uncertain about the legitimacy of a message, always verify by contacting the ATO directly at 1-800-008-540 or by visiting their official website’s scam verification page. Gavan Ord, a spokesperson for CPA Australia, emphasises the importance of stopping and thinking before you click any links or share personal information.

Young Aussies at risk

It might be surprising, but tech-savvy young Australians are often caught off guard by these scams. “This should be a wake-up call for everyone,” says Ord. He suggests checking in with elderly or vulnerable family and friends to make sure they’re aware of these scams too.

Practical tips to avoid being scammed

Screenshot and report: If you encounter a suspicious social media account, take a screenshot and report it to [email protected].

Educate others: Share this information with those who might not be as tech-savvy.

Stay updated: Keep yourself informed about the latest scam techniques.

Remember, scams prey on our instincts. They make us think we need to act quickly – either to gain a financial reward or to avoid a penalty. By pausing to verify the source, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from these increasingly sophisticated scams. Stay vigilant, and always think twice before you click!

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