Residents are warned that tax time sees scammers especially busy trying to con people out of their money and personal information.
The Australian Taxation Office reports that scam reports always increase around this time of year.
More than 37,000 scams were reported to the ATO during tax time in 2017, resulting in people losing more than $630,000 collectively.
Bendigo police are aware of a scam reported recently that involves an email purportedly from the online government services hub myGov.
“Scammers are aiming to make money and use a range of tactics,” ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said.
“They may get money up front by pressuring you into paying a fake debt or by tricking you into paying a fee to have a refund released.
“They may also get you to click on a link to divulge your login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment which enables them to access your data.”
Scammers can sell personal information, or use it themselves to impersonate an individual for financial gain.
Ms Anderson said the most common scam remained a phone call advising of a tax debt, but there had been an increase in email and text messaging scams that involved fake refunds or asked for a fee to issue a tax refund.
Related: Police warn of scams in Bendigo area
To avoid becoming the victim of a scam, the ATO advises being aware of the following:
- ATO staff will not use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten an individual with jail, arrest or deportation
- The ATO will not request payment of a debt by iTunes, pre-paid Visa cards or cryptocurrency (for example, Bitcoin)
- The ATO will not require a fee to release a refund
- The ATO will not send an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment
People should protect their personal and financial details, and only give this information to someone they trust.
They should also be careful clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments.
If a person doubts the legitimacy of a phone call, text message, email or letter, they should:
- Consider if it seems unusual, and check whether it is listed on the ATO’s scam alert page
- Be aware of their tax position; there is no need to rush, even if the person making contact says it is urgent. Check details on myGov, call the ATO, or speak to an agent
- Talk to someone trusted about whether they think it is a scam
- If it is believed to be a scam, report it to the ATO on 1800 008 540