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New SMS scam targets victims of natural disasters

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
17 February 2020 1 minute readShare

A new SMS scam is preying on the victims of the recent natural disasters by promising them an 8 per cent bonus on their 2020 tax returns.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning the community about a new SMS scam which promises an 8 per cent bonus on 2020 tax returns to victims of recent natural disasters.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said this is a classic case of fraudsters impersonating the ATO in an effort to collect personal information from people like names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and online banking login details.


This particular scam includes a link to a fake myGov website which looks genuine.

Over the past few years, the ATO has seen an increasing number of reports of scammers contacting members of the public pretending to be from the ATO by SMS, email and phone, and the scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated.


“Last year, over 15,000 people reported to us that they provided scammers with their personal identifying information,” Ms Foat said.

“Your personal and financial information is like the keys to your identity and your money. Once a scammer has your data, they will either sell it on the black market or use it to impersonate you.

“Armed with your details, scammers can do things like get a loan or commit fraud in your name, access your bank account and shop using your credit card, lodge tax returns or steal your superannuation.”

She advised individuals who receive an SMS, call or email they’re not sure is genuine to phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line — 1800 008 540 — to check if it is legitimate.



While the ATO does send SMS and emails, and makes phone calls to taxpayers, it never requests that individuals click on a hyperlink to log on to government services.

The ATO will also never ask individuals to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund, nor will it use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten with immediate arrest, jail or deportation.

The Tax Office also advised that it never requests payment of a debt via cardless cash, iTunes or Google Play cards, prepaid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account.

“If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax-related scam, the best thing to do is call the ATO as soon as you can on 1800 008 540,” Ms Foat said.

New SMS scam targets victims of natural disasters
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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