On ATO Scams – Please be Careful

Received a phone call this morning purportedly from the ATO – this is unusual as the ATO doesn’t call at first instance.  Alert went off and thought it may be an ATO scam.

Sure enough, checked out the number they left for me to call them back on – 1 300 466 859.  Turns out it is a scam.

In the interests of finding out how these guys work, thought I would call them.

All sounds very professional.  When I listened to the automated security warnings, it sounded like the ATO.

Then I got through to the guy who was answering the phone – asked some questions about who he was and where he was based – nothing coming back.  This is unusual as ATO officers are normally happy to release direct line information to Tax Agents.

He then advised me to ring another number to verify his details.  The number given was 1 800 880 540.  This is very close to the ATO scams number of 1800 008 540.

After a pretty frank and open discussion about whether or not this was a scam, I called the ATO.  Turns out they have no record of the phone numbers provided on their system.  So it is an ATO scam.

A couple of pieces of advice for you if you are contacted by phone from the ATO:

  1. The ATO will never make initial contact with you over the phone – they will always send a letter (usually to your Accountant/Tax Agent) with contact details;
  2. They will not ask you for personal details until they have verified you.  In our case, this is a bit of a rigmarole, but it ensures your safety;
  3. They will be evasive when you start asking them questions.

If you are contacted by someone over the phone who you think may be an ATO scammer, please call your Tax Agent or Accountant and have them deal with the matter for you.  The alternative is to contact the ATO direct on 1 800 008 540 and seek to confirm whether the ATO is seeking to deal with you on any matter.  If you want more information, please have a look at the ATO Information page.

The people running up ATO scams are scum.  Please be careful and have a healthy scepticism if and when you are ever approached by phone or email by the ATO.

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