A text message scam, which promises an eight per cent bonus on 2020 tax returns to victims of recent natural disasters, has been uncovered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said the scam is a classic case of fraudsters attempting to collect personal information from people like names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and online banking login details.
The scam includes a link to a fake myGov website which looks genuine. In the past few years, the ATO has witnessed an increase number of reports of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be the ATO through SMS, email and phone.
The scammers are becoming more sophisticated.
"Last year, over 15,000 people reported to us that they provided scammers with their personal identifying information," Ms Foat said.
"Your personal and financial information is like the keys to your identity and your money. Once a scammer has your data, they will either sell it on the black market or use it to impersonate you.
"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.
"If you receive an SMS, call, or email and aren't sure if it's genuine, it's okay to not respond. Instead, you can phone the ATO's dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it is legitimate.
You can also report a scam online at ato.gov.au/reportascam or give us a call."
The ATO does send text messages and emails and makes phone calls to taxpayers.
There are some tell-tale signs to identify the legitimacy:
The ATO will never send a text message or email requesting you click on a hyperlink to log on to governmen, ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund, use aggressive or rude behaviour or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation, project the phone number onto your caller ID (people can be sure that if there's a number on their caller ID, it's not the ATO calling) and request payment of a debt via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency, or direct credit to a personal bank account.