The ATO is urging people and businesses to be vigilant following an increase in reports of fake websites offering to provide tax file numbers (TFN) and Australian business numbers (ABN) for a fee, but failing to provide those services.
The fake TFN and ABN services are often advertised on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The scammers use the fraudulent websites they advertise to steal both money and personal information.
Tip: The ATO and Australian Business Register (ABR) do not charge fees for providing a TFN or an ABN. It’s free, quick and easy to use government services online to apply for a TFN through the ATO, or apply for an ABN through the ABR.
The ATO is also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been “suspended” due to fraud.
In 2021, more than 50,000 people reported various ATO impersonation scams, with victims losing a total of more than $800,000.
Tips to protect yourself from scammers
- Know your tax affairs – You will be notified about your tax debt before it is due. Check if you have a legitimate debt by logging into your myGov account or calling your tax agent. Find the contact details for the ATO or your tax agent independently by searching online or using your own paper records – don’t trust details provided by possible scammers.
- Guard your personal and financial information – Be careful when clicking on links, downloading files or opening attachments. Only give your personal information to people you trust and don’t share it on social media.
- If you’re not sure, don’t engage – If a call, SMS or email leaves you wondering if it’s genuine, don’t reply. You can phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line on 1800 008 540 to check if it is legitimate. You can also verify or report a scam online at www.ato.gov.au/scams and visit ScamWatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au to get information about scams (not just tax scams).
- Know legitimate ways to make payments – Scammers may use threatening tactics to trick you into paying fake debts via unusual methods. For example, they might demand pre-paid gift cards or transfers to non-ATO bank accounts. To check that a payment method is legitimate, visit www.ato.gov.au/howtopay.