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ATO issues serious tax file number warning

A sign and logo for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The ATO has seen an increase in scams involving tax file numbers. (Source: Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued a warning to millions of Australians that will be lodging their first tax return this year.

The ATO said it had seen an increase in scams involving fake tax file number (TFN) applications.

“These scams tell people they can help them get a TFN for a fee,” the ATO said.

“But instead of delivering this service, these fraudulent websites steal the person's money and personal information.”

The ATO said the scams were most prevalent on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Applying for a tax file number is FREE, the ATO said, and you can easily apply for one directly through the ATO.

If you're applying for a TFN through a tax agent, always check they are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

“The same goes for Australian business number (ABN) applications – never give out your personal information unless you're sure of who you're dealing with,” the ATO said.

What to do if you have been targeted by a scam

The ATO said if you think a phone call, SMS, voicemail or email claiming to be from the ATO is not genuine, do not reply to it. Instead, you should either:

Scams on the rise

This comes after new data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch revealed Australians lost a staggering $95 million to all types of scams in March, the greatest monthly amount on Scamwatch’s record.

Rising more than 150 per cent from February, the amount lost in March also represents a significant increase of nearly 400 per cent from the $20 million reported the same time last year.

Despite an increase in the amount lost to scams, the number of reports decreased by 10 per cent in March, with 16,446 scams recorded, suggesting scammers were becoming more effective in their tactics, with far fewer attempts.

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