Tax office warns of fake website scam

Tax office warns of fake website scam

Tax office warns of fake website scam

Fake websites advertising on social media platforms are charging for free government services and then not providing them.

The Australian Taxation Office has received an increase in reports about the fake sites offering to provide tax file numbers or Australian business numbers for a fee, then not delivering.

More than 50,000 Australians reported scammers impersonating the ATO last year, with cumulative losses in excess of $800,000.

“We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud,” ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said on Tuesday.

The scammers use an offer of TFN and ABN numbers to lure victims, despite those numbers being provided free by the ATO and the Australian Business Register.

They can also be obtained through a tax agent, and the ATO warns anyone applying through an agent to make sure they are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

Scammers are always on the lookout for new ways to target victims and attempts to steal people’s personal information are likely to increase in the lead up to tax time, Mr Loh warned.

The ATO said the fake websites offering to charge for a free service they do not actually provide are being advertised on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

All three platforms have community guidelines or terms of use policies that prohibit fraudulent or other illegal activity and rely on machine learning and human moderators to police it on their global platforms that billions of people use.

The ATO says Australians should be alert to online scammers and report them to the ATO or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch.

People can check if they have a legitimate tax debt by logging into their myGov account, and those who do owe a debt will be notified by the ATO before it is due.


Jack Gramenz
(Australian Associated Press)

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