Scam alert: ATO warning about dodgy robocalls and text messages

Aussies ave been warned about a fresh wave of scams hitting the region, with both automated calls and text messages claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office.

Scammers have upped their game by manipulating calling line identifications and emails to make the hustle appear more legitimate – a technique known as “spoofing”.

Jenny Carter, from Tamworth, NSW, was shocked when she got a robocall from the ATO, telling her to pay up.

“I’m not stupid, but I almost wet myself,” she said.

“I’m a Justice of the Peace and I’m no dummy, so if I’m getting sucked in at the beginning, I imagine there are plenty of others.

“When I rang them back, they started talking about arresting me if I didn’t pay, then I thought this is ridiculous and hung up.”

She contacted both the police and Scamwatch.

“It’s really bad, people need to be aware of it,” she said.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said scammers weren’t just after money anymore, they were also targeting personal information in an attempt to steal identities.

“We are seeing the emergence of a new scam, where scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund,” she said.

“This scam is not just targeting your money, but is after your personal information in an attempt to steal your identity.

“Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if you weren’t expecting it.”

As of January, more than $900,000 has been paid to the scammers by unsuspecting victims.

Ms Float urged people to be cautious, and to call hotline a specifically set up for people with suspicions.

“If you are unsure about a call, text message or email that you have received, don’t reply,” she said.

“It’s OK to slow down and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the contact was legitimate or to report a scam.

Ms Float said some of the warning signs included an email or text message with a login in link, threats of arrest, requesting a fee in order to release a refund or requesting payment in an usual method such direct credit to a personal bank account.