If you have been affected by an ATO impersonation scam you can report it to the Australian Taxation Office in various ways.
- If you or someone you know has paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to a scammer, call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to report.
- If you receive a scam phone call or text message, and have not paid or provided sensitive personal identifying information to the scammer, you can report the scam via the online form Report a scam
Email and text message scams
If you receive a suspicious email or text message (SMS) claiming to be from the ATO:
Do not click on a link, open an attachment or download a file.
Verifying ATO contact
If you are ever unsure whether an ATO interaction is genuine, do not reply. You should phone us on 1800 008 540.
On this page:
Who else to notify
If you have made a payment to an ATO impersonation scammer, make an official report to your local police.
If you have given your credit card or bank details to someone who shouldn’t have them, contact your bank or financial institution.
If you have paid money into a scammer bank account contact that bank and lodge a fraud report.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between legitimate ATO interactions and those of the scammers, however there are some tell-tale signs outlined below to help you verify that you’re dealing with the legitimate ATO.
The below scamming methods are used to mimic the ATO and attempt to steal your Personal Identifying Information (PII) or money.
- Threaten you with immediate arrest. They do this to create a sense of urgency and instill a fear response.
- The ATO would never threaten you with immediate arrest.
- Send unsolicited pre-recorded messages (robocalls) to your phone. These will be delivered when you answer the call or may be left on your voicemail. They often ask you to return the call as the act of responding to robocalls gives the scammers increased certainty of speaking to someone who believed the message.
- We will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.
- Only ever call back on an independently sourced number not the one provided to you or in your call log.
- Use technology to project legitimate numbers on caller ID on your call log, this may include legitimate ATO numbers. They do this to make you think the call originates from Australian numbers.
- Calls originating from us do not show a number on caller ID.
- Only ever call back on an independently sourced number, not one shown on caller ID or in your call log.
- Demand immediate payment and keep you on the line until you pay. They may advise that hanging up will trigger the arrest warrant. This is done to ensure payment is made by the end of the call.
- We will never insist you stay on the line until payment is made.
- Refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent. They do this to prevent anyone from telling you that it’s a scam and interrupting the payment.
- The ATO will never prevent you from discussing your tax affairs with your agent or trusted advisor.
- Conference call in a fake tax professional, law enforcement officer or another official. This is done to add legitimacy to the call and increase the fear response. The second person dialed in is another scammer.
- The ATO would never conference call in a third party such as your tax agent or law enforcement.
- Know your tax affairs – you can log into ATO online services through myGov to check your tax affairs at any time, or you can contact us (your tax agent) or the ATO.
- Request payment by iTunes, Google Play, STEAM or other vouchers. These vouchers can be easily purchased and sold globally and are an untraceable form of currency.
- The ATO would never request payment of a debt via iTunes, Google Play cards or other vouchers.
- For legitimate ways to pay your tax debt, see How to pay.
- Request payment by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency either directly or deposited into an ATM. This currency is difficult to trace and offers a degree of anonymity.
- The ATO does not accept payment in cryptocurrency.
- Request you pay money into a personal bank account. Australian based accounts are established by money mules. The money moves accounts until it eventually is sent offshore.
- The ATO would never ask you to pay your tax debt into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Check the Bank-State-Branch (BSB).
- Request you pay money via offshore wire transfer (where the scammers are located).
- The ATO would not request payment of a debt via offshore wire transfer.
- Request you pay a fee to receive a refund usually by credit card. Credit card information is often stolen.
- The ATO would never ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a refund.
- Do not provide your credit card details to anyone unless you trust the person you’re dealing with and they genuinely require these details.
- Offer payment arrangements if you can’t pay the full amount. This is done to increase instances of payments and the total amount paid.
- Contact our office or the ATO directly via an independently sourced number before entering into a payment arrangement.
Emails and text message scams
- Request you provide your personal identifying and financial institution details via a return SMS or email in order to receive a refund.
- The ATO may use SMS or email to request you to contact them, but they would never ask you to provide personal identifying information via these methods in order to receive a refund.
- Don’t give out your TFN, date of birth or bank details unless you trust the person you’re dealing with and they genuinely require these details.
- Request you click on a hyperlink in a text message or email to log on to an online service. Scammers create a fake log on pages that look legitimate. They use these sites to keep legitimate credentials (user names and passwords) for future misuse.
- The ATO would never send you an email or text message with a hyperlink directing you to a logon page for our online services.
- Request you click on a link in a text message or email to download forms or attachments. Scammers do this to either to install malicious software on your computer to gain access to your data or to keep your personal identifying or financial information for future misuse.
- Always use caution when downloading attachments or clicking links in emails, text messages or social media posts, even if they appear to come from someone you know.
- Create fake social media accounts and send requests for personal identifying information or money.
- The ATO are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but would never use these social media platforms to ask you for payment or personally identifiable information.
- They never interact with you via Whatsapp.
Note: Never share your TFN, myGov or bank account details or other sensitive personal identifying information on social media.
When in doubt always contact our office to verify scams at 03 9417 3511.