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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.

How to Improve Your Cashflow

A business can be profitable and go broke.  The reason – cashflow.

Cashflow is king and the lifeblood of any business.  We have seen a number of businesses over the years where cashflow has been poorly managed with often disastrous results.

We have just acquired some very powerful software tools which assist us in working with you to improve your cashflow management and enable proper cashflow budgeting to be achieved.  We know in our business, where clients take time to pay, it can put a strain on resources.

A couple of simple ways to improve cashflow are:

  • Bill more regularly (if you’re billing monthly, move to fortnightly)
  • Bill immediately after the job/work is completed
  • Get paid in advance!
  • Introduce progress payments for larger work
  • Start chasing debtors 2 days after they are due for payment
  • Put a “due for payment on” date on your invoices
  • Do not issue statements
  • Introduce direct debiting of customer accounts
  • Allow credit card payments
  • Start new customers off the way you want it to be from here on in.

The impact of a couple of these initiatives on cashflow can be profound.  You may lose a couple of customers (who really wants a poor payer as a customer?) but the net result for your business will be positive.

You also need to be aware of the cost of carrying older accounts.  The cost of recovery for poor paying customers can often wipe out any profit on the work. You are effectively financing your poor payers’ businesses at zero interest.

Consider where you have two months’ turnover in accounts receivable at any one time – if you can speed that up by 30 days, it is the equivalent of an additional month’s trading to your cashflow!  All you need to do is get the tools to achieve and manage it.

To have a look over the cashflow forecasting tool we’ve introduced, please call Peter Jacks at our office on 03 5320 1888 or on his mobile 0437 250 212.