Advertisement

Grim warning over sinister text scam

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -NewsWire Photos APRIL 12 2023 - A general view of a person seen on a mobile phone in the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney CBD. Picture NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard
The ATO said it received an increased number of reports regarding several ATO impersonation scams this tax time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Australians are being urged to remain vigilant after a spike in reports of impersonation scams.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) issued the warning amid the new financial year.

SMS and email scams are a form of identity theft, attempting to steal people’s usernames and passwords, and often leading to financial loss or identity theft.

Typically, the fraudulent communication will contain a hyperlink which, if clicked on, will direct the unsuspecting user to a fake myGov sign in page.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -NewsWire Photos APRIL 12 2023 - A general view of a person seen on a mobile phone in the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney CBD. Picture NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard
The ATO said it received an increased number of reports regarding several ATO impersonation scams this tax time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

“We won’t send you an SMS or email with a link to log on to online services,” the ATO said.

“While we may use SMS or email to ask you to contact us, we will never ask you to return personal information through these channels.

“(Our services) should be accessed directly by typing ato.gov.au or my.gov.au into your browser.”

The government agency has warned Aussies to look out for some key red flags that can help distinguish a scam from a legitimate message.

x x x x x
The ATO flagged certain phrases likely to appear in scam messages. Picture: Supplied, ATO

Phrases used by scammers to encourage people to click on links include “You are due to receive an ATO Direct refund” and “You have an ATO notification”.

Recipients might also see messages urging them to update personal details to facilitate the processing of a tax return, or to verify an incoming tax deposit.

It’s also common for scam messages to contain phrases such as “ATO Refund failed due to incorrect BSB/Account number” and “Due to receive a refund, click here to receive a rebate”.

x x x x x x
Hyperlinks in scam messages usually direct users to fake government websites. Picture: Supplied, ATO

Phishing is a form of identity theft whereby scammers attempt to trick people into giving out personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.

According to Scamwatch there has been a reported loss of more than $19m to phishing scams so far this year, and more than $6.7m lost to identity theft scams.

The total amount lost nationally is likely much higher as not all losses are reported.

The ATO has urged Australians who receive any suspicious contacts claiming to be from the government agency to send them to ReportScams@ato.gov.au.