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ATO warning: Avoid this mistake at tax time

·3-min read
ATO offices and person on computer
Avoid falling for this ATO tax lodgement ploy. (Source: Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned taxpayers to watch out for a new phishing scam that tells people their 2022 tax return has been lodged.

Fraudsters posing as the ATO have been sending emails to people telling them their “2022 tax lodgement” has been received by the tax office.

The scam email asks users to open an attachment to sign a document and complete their “to do list details”.

If you open the attachment, you are taken to a phoney Microsoft login page where scammers can capture your login details.

They will then use these details to reset your passwords for other accounts, such as online banking, so they can drain your bank accounts.

The tax office advised recipients of the phishing email should not click on the link and should forward it to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.

ato scam
Look out for an email that looks like this. (Source: ATO)

Once you’ve forwarded the email, it’s best to delete it.

Other tax scams to watch out for

This is not the first time scammers have pretended to be from the ATO.

In April, a scam involving fake tax file number (TFN) applications surfaced.

These fraudsters tell people they can provide a TFN for a fee to lure people onto a fake website to steal their money and personal information.

The tax office is also aware of cryptocurrency scams where fraudsters pose as the ATO telling people they are suspected of being involved in a cryptocurrency tax evasion.

The tax office has also seen scams involving fake superannuation investments, as well as fake tax debts, a scam alerting people to update their financial information, and several others.

How do I avoid falling for tax scams?

According to the ATO, it never sends emails or SMS messages asking people to log in or use its online services.

It may periodically ask people to contact the department, but would never send messages out of the blue asking people to provide personal information.

People can also protect themselves from scams in general by having strong passwords and updating them regularly.

Westpac’s general manager of fraud prevention and financial crime, Chris Whittingham, has some extra tips for avoiding scams:

  • Don’t trust unexpected calls or emails: If there’s someone claiming to be from a reputable organisation, stop to consider what they are asking for

  • Ignore suspicious email links: Whatever you do, don’t click on links in emails that ask you to make a payment

  • Act fast: Don’t put off a call to your bank if you think you’ve been scammed - immediate action gives banks the best chance to catch scammers

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