The ATO is reminding the public to be alert to scammers impersonating the ATO demanding iTunes gift cards as a form of tax debt payment.
Assistant Commissioner Janine Clark said that based on recent reports made to the ATO, iTunes gift cards were part of new tactic being used by fraudsters.
“In the last month, of the 8692 phone scam reports we received in April 2016 were in relation to the fake ATO tax debt scam; 58 reports mentioned the scammer demanding payment by iTunes and 26 people unfortunately payed $174,830 to fraudsters,” Ms Clark said.
“In many cases, scammers request payments that are either non-existent or unexpected.
“By the time these scams are reported to us, the cards have already been on-sold or redeemed by the scammers. The scammers don’t need the actual physical card. They just need the gift card number, which they get victims to read over the phone.”
Ms Clark said the ATO has recently received reports of not only iTunes cards, but also pre-paid Visa gift cards purchased from supermarkets and department stores.
“What we’re most concerned about is that vulnerable Australians who have little interaction with us are not only being led to believe this is a legitimate request for payment from the ATO but they are giving out personal information such as their tax file number.”
Provision of personal information to an unauthorized person opens up further opportunity for identity theft and fraud.
“We will never request the payment of a tax debt via gift or pre-paid cards such as iTunes and Visa cards. Nor will we ask for direct credit to be paid to a personal bank account.
“And if the person calling you is rude and aggressive, threatening police or legal action if you don’t do something immediately – it’s not the ATO.
“If you do have a debt, we would have written to you first. If we do ring you, our staff will identify themselves and let you know how you can call us back.
“If you think you’ve been scammed or would like to confirm the legitimacy of an ATO call or letter, phone the ATO on 1800 008 540,” Ms Clark said.
Report an unsolicited email
You can report unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au.
If you’ve been a victim of a tax-related scam
If you think you have been a victim of a tax-related scam, phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 – do so immediately, because your personal details, including your TFN, may be compromised. You should also contact your bank/financial institution as soon as possible if you provided your credit card details as part of the suspected scam.
For more information about identity crime and protecting your identity click here.