The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned citizens about a tax phone call scam that has hit hundreds of people in the first four days of July 2019.
In the first week of July, the ACCC has already received hundreds of reports about the robocall scam, which involves automated recordings and live phone scammers posing as representatives from the Australian Tax Office.
Read on to learn more about the scam and how to avoid becoming a victim of a phone call fraud like this yourself, whether you live in Australia or elsewhere.
Over $1 million has been lost by vulnerable consumers thus far in 2019 to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) phone scam. Over 19,000 reports have been filed this year about the scam with the ACCC, with hundreds of those taking place just in the early days of the month of July.
The phone scam starts with someone calling from an anonymous number and introducing themselves as a representative of the ATO. They continue the call by demanding unpaid taxes from the victim, at the risk of arrest, imprisonment, or heavy fines. They ask the victim to send fees via money transfer, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, or other anonymous or semi-anonymous means.
If you receive a robotic-sounding phone call, the best thing to do is hang up. The same is true if you receive an aggressive or threatening call, especially from someone who says they are from a government agency. No one from an official government agency such as the Australian Tax Office will call you by phone to threaten you with arrests or heavy fines.
Importantly, if you fall victim to the Australian Tax Office scam or another phone scam, report it to the relevant government authorities. If you call someone at the actual official government agency in question, they’ll be able to talk you through whether you were speaking with a real employee or not.
Moreover, don’t ever give out any personal information or speak to the caller further. They could use your information to scam you.