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ATO’s SMS alert service causing ‘unnecessary concern’, says mid-tier

The ATO’s text message alert service for SMSF trustees which is designed to reduce the risk of fraud may be causing unnecessary worry for SMSF trustees rather than achieving its intended goal, according to a mid-tier firm.

SMSF Miranda Brownlee 31 August 2020
— 1 minute read

In February this year, the ATO launched a new alert service for SMSF trustees which issues text message alerts or emails to SMSF trustees when changes are made to key details of their fund with the ATO.

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This includes changes to an SMSF’s financial institution account details, electronic service address, authorised contact and members.

BDO national leader, superannuation, Paul Rafton said the most likely triggers for the alerts are when there is a change reported via the SMSF’s annual return to the SMSF’s electronic service address or bank account details.

“The ATO alert can also be generated when a fund’s details are updated on the Australian Business Register,” Mr Rafton said.

“Unfortunately, the ATO alert does not provide any detail about what changes may have been made to the SMSFs account.”

Mr Rafton said it is important that SMSF clients are aware that these alerts are not a hoax or scam and are a legitimate form of communication from the ATO.

“However, we stress that SMSF trustees should always exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails or SMS messages from unknown sources,” he said.

“BDO has provided feedback to the ATO that the alerts are causing unnecessary concern for SMSF trustees and may not achieve the intended goal.”

Following its launch in February, the SMS alert service encountered some system errors where SMSF trustees were mistakenly sent alerts upon the lodgement of their 2019 annual return.

The errors appeared to stem from lodgement of SMSF annual returns, which triggered a change in the SMSF’s electronic service address (ESA) that then generated a mistaken alert to the affected trustees. The ATO later rectified the issue.

ATO’s SMS alert service causing ‘unnecessary concern’, says mid-tier
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