$1 million lost in tax scams this year

Tax professionals should be wary of potential tax scams targeting their clients this tax time, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reporting losses of $1 million just this year.

According to the ACCC, 300 Australians have reported losing money to tax scams in the first half of 2016, resulting in a total loss of $1 million.

This follows the 400 individuals who reported losing money in the 12 months prior, with $1.6 million lost in total.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said these incessant scams come in a variety of forms, but generally claim that individuals have underpaid their taxes and are required to repay the tax debt immediately or face frightening repercussions such as arrest.

“Tax scammers are particularly aggressive, so many people feel pressured to pay quickly without questioning them,” said Ms Rickard.

“The most threatening scammers even say that police are on their way to arrest you but can be stopped if you pay immediately.”

Ms Rickard said these scams generally access personal information they find online to try and convince victims they are legitimate.

“They usually ask for payment for an ‘unpaid debt’ via wire money transfer, credit card, direct debit cards or even iTunes cards,” she said.

“The call looks like it comes from a local phone number but most use voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone numbers to disguise the fact that they are calling from overseas.”

Other scams targeting individuals during tax time, Ms Rickard said, include phishing emails, which aim to access personal details.

Scammers tell individuals that they are owed money by the government but to collect it they must pay a small fee.

“Any unusual requests to send money via money transfer, gift card or other digital currency should be treated as highly suspicious,” she said.

 

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