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Beware the scams

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Tax scams have been around for several years. As each scam is publicised, scammers adopt new techniques to lure unsuspecting taxpayers into either paying fictitious debts or handing over personal information.

The latest scam is the most aggressive and blatant yet, with thousands of Australians falling victim over the past few months.

It works like this. You receive a phone call purporting to be from a tax office auditor, advising you that you have an unpaid debt which must be settled over the phone immediately to avoid arrest. In some cases, the scammer has access to some personal information about you (perhaps your workplace or address), which makes their story sound convincing.

tax scam

In reality, the ATO will never call you to chase an outstanding debt without having written to you first. Even if it dies call you, it will certainly not adopt intimidatory tactics to enforce immediate payment.

If you receive a call and have reason to doubt that the caller is genuine, always ask for their details and call the ATO back on 132 869, asking to be put through to the named officer.

In addition, never disclose personal information or financial details to a caller and never give out credit card details or arrange for any other form of payment.

Mark Chapman, Director of tax communications, H&R Block

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Mark Chapman is director of tax communications at H&R Block, Australia's largest firm of tax accountants, and is a regular contributor to Money. Mark is the author of Life and Taxes: A Look at Life Through Tax.
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