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Genuine ATO call or a scam attempt? ATO issues guidance on how to tell the difference

The ATO has warned that identifying information like tax file numbers (TFNs), bank account numbers or your date of birth are the keys to your identity, and can be used by scammers to break into your life if they are compromised, and it is essential to keep this information secure.

There is increased fraudulent activity at this time of the year, with more than one thousand taxpayers reporting their personal information had been compromised in June, up by 26% from May, and telephone calls from scammers purporting to be ATO officers are increasingly common.

How to spot a scammer

The ATO will not:

  • be abusive or offensive to you
  • threaten you with immediate arrest
  • ask you to transfer money into an account with a BSB that is not 092009 or 093003
  • request payment via unusual methods such as iTunes gift cards or other prepaid cards
  • request personal security information such as your TFN or your bank details via email or SMS or social media sites
  • ask you for money up front in order to receive a refund or other payment
  • direct you to download files from the internet.

The ATO will:

  • provide you with a range of options for paying debts, which are all set out on their website at
  • contact you by phone
    • if you are in doubt about the authenticity of a call claiming to be from the ATO, you can call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to verify
    • you will generally be aware of any debt before it is due for payment, but you can check through your myGov account, your tax agent or by calling the ATO
  • send emails and SMS asking to you to take specific action such as:
    • provide additional information required to process a BAS or tax return lodged
    • provide additional information required regarding an application that’s been made
    • verify changes to an account
  • send general notifications and reminders via SMS or email
  • send promotional and informational SMS and emails.

We can easily check if you owe any amounts to the ATO, confirm the amount and send you a legitimate pay slip to settle your tax debt via a secure payment method.

If you think your tax file number has been stolen or compromised, you should contact us or the ATO Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033 immediately.


The contents of this publication are general in nature and we accept no responsibility for persons acting on information contained herein. The content of this newsletter does not constitute specific advice and readers are encouraged to consult their Ruddicks adviser on any matters of interest. © Ruddicks 2017

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