We have recently had increased reports of clients being contacted by someone claiming to be from the ATO and trying to obtain information or money from them. In particular these scam callers like to use words like ‘tax avoidance’ and ‘harsh penalties including gaol time’ to increase your concern and elicit the response they want from you. Scammers are even now providing reference numbers to the target to make it seem like a legitimate ATO call.
The ATO has also reported seeing use of technology to make it look like the calls originate from a legitimate ATO phone number. This number may appear on caller ID, be left on voice mail messages for call backs, or directed by *69 for call back functionality. Scammers do this to make the calls seem more valid when they call people a second time. Most frequently the number appearing is 6216 1111, but other numbers have been used as well.
The ATO will never threaten you with arrest or demand immediate payment – particularly by use of bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards. They will also never refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or tax agent such as Callaghans.
Never make payments over the phone with these callers. Take the callers details and information and then confirm the information with your tax agent or the ATO directly on 1800 008 540 (not the one provided to you by the caller) before any action is taken.
For further information see ATO information on scams The ATO Website