ATO reports 90 per cent spike in scams, fraud

The tax office had found there has been a significant increase in the number of reported scams, as well as the “aggressive” tactics used by fraudsters.

In 2015 almost 87,000 phone and email scams were reported to the ATO, an increase of over 90 per cent from 2014.

“In the last couple of years, not only have we seen a significant increase in the number of scams reported to us but also the different types of approaches used by fraudsters,” said ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte.

“Lately, we have been receiving reports of a variation of this aggressive tax debt scam, where callers impersonating ATO officers demand payment via iTunes gift cards and pre-paid Visa gift cards purchased from supermarkets and department stores,” he said.

From January to May this year, the ATO has received over 40,500 phone scam reports. Of these, 226 Australians handed over $1.2 million to fraudsters and over 1900 gave out some form of personal information, including tax file numbers.

Mr Whyte said scammers are particularly active during tax time because of the large number of people lodging their tax returns.

“Most Australians are pretty good at catching fraudsters in the act. This is clear from the amount of scams reported to us compared to the number of people handing over money and personal information,” Mr Whyte said.

“We encourage people to continue to be vigilant and to protect their personal information by keeping it private,” he added.

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