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SMS promises 8% bonus tax refund

The Australian Taxation Office is warning taxpayers to not fall for this fake offer of a 8% bonus on refunds. (Image: supplied)

The Australian Taxation Office is warning Australians to avoid falling for a scam text message that promises an 8 per cent tax refund bonus.

The SMS includes a link that leads to a fake – but a very authentic-looking – myGov website.

"Due to natural disasters, Australians are entitled to an 8% bonus on their 2020 tax return. Please begin the process by filling out the form below," reads the message.

The fake myGov page then harvests personal information volunteered to it from duped Australians.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to steal private data. 

"If you receive an SMS, call, or email and aren’t sure if it’s genuine, it's OK to not respond. Instead, you can phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it is legitimate."

Foat said more than 15,000 people last year reported to the ATO they had given personal information to scammers.

"Once a scammer has your data, they will either sell it on the black market or use it to impersonate you," she said.

"Armed with your details, scammers can do things like get a loan or commit fraud in your name, access your bank account and shop using your credit card, lodge tax returns, or steal your superannuation."

The real tax office does send SMS messages and emails but they never direct recipients to click on a link. The ATO would also never ask for personal information to receive a refund.

Some scammers have also used aggressive language to threaten victims with arrest, imprisonment or deportation, which the tax office would never do.

Authentic tax office staff would also never request payment by cardless cash, iTunes vouchers, prepaid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct transfer to a personal bank account.

Anyone affected by a disaster should, when they are ready, directly contact the official ATO phone line on 1800 806 218 to request assistance or liaise with their tax agent.

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