Scamwatch: Scammers target tax file numbers

Every year, thousands of Australians are targeted by scams, whether it be online, via phone, mail or even in person. Australian Community Media has compiled a list of current scams identified on sites such as scamwatch.gov.au and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website dedicated to informing people about fraudulent and dishonest activities.

Have you been scammed?

Australian Community Media is interested in publishing first-hand accounts from those who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous operators. If you're interested in sharing your story as a warning to others contact Anna Wolf at anna.wolf@austcommunitymedia.com.au.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Scams

  • Scammers pretend to be from the ATO tell people their tax file number (TFN) has either been suspended due to illegal activity or compromised by a scammer.
  • They request the call recipient to either pay a fine to release their TFN or transfer all bank funds into a holding account to protect it from future misuse.
  • The ATO does not suspend TFNs and will never request you pay a fine or transfer money in order to protect your TFN pending legal action.
  • Phone calls from the ATO do not project a number on caller ID and we will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.
  • If you receive a phone call like this, hang up and do not provide the information requested.
  • If you're unsure whether an ATO contact is genuine, phone 1800 008 540 to check.

Romance baiting scams on the rise

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, love is in the air and scammers are, unfortunately, active.

Last year Australians reported a record-breaking $37 million lost to dating and romance scams and with Valentine's Day on Sunday, Scamwatch is urging the public to be wary.

Scammers are now using dating apps to lure victims into investment scams.

Called romance baiting, this technique involves scammers meeting people on dating apps and then moving the conversation to an encrypted chat site. After a few weeks of developing a relationship, the scammer will begin asking about the victim's finances and encourage them to participate in an investment opportunity.

"These scams prey on people seeking connection and can leave victims with significant financial losses and emotional distress," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said.

"While traditional dating and romance scams tend to target older Australians, almost half of all losses to romance baiting scams come from people under the age of 35."

Last year Scamwatch received over 400 reports of romance baiting scams.

Scammers often encourage victims to initially transfer a small amount of money to prove how easy the investment is. Victims will be told to top up their accounts to increase their profits but when they run out of money to transfer, the scammer will cease all communication.

Scammers may also use a technique called 'love bombing', where they contact the victim several times a day professing their feelings for them. The victim starts to develop feelings in return, making them more likely to participate in the investment scam.

"Remember that you are in control and if you start to feel pressured by someone, stop communicating with them," Ms Rickard said. "You can also do an internet search with the name or photo of your love interest or some of the phrases they have used to help identify if it is a scam."

If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.

Phishing scams

  • Scamwatch is urging the public to be aware of text message phishing scams impersonating PayPal, ANZ bank and Westpac.
  • More than 180 people have reported the Westpac scam. Scammers send a text impersonating the bank stating "to avoid service restrictions" to click on the supplied hyperlink. The number comes from from various Australian domestic mobile numbers.
  • The PayPal and ANZ scams prompts the message recipient to click on a link to review suspicious activity on their accounts.
  • Do not click on hyperlinks to sign into your online banking. Securely type the homepage of the financial service into your browser or use their official mobile app.

Remote access scam

  • Remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.
  • Scammers are cold-calling Australians pretending to be eBay or Amazon, claiming their account is about to be billed for a purchase they did not make. Just hang up. Do not provide identity documents or allow them to access your devices.

myGOV refund scam

  • Scmwatch is reporting that in the last week it has received 80 reports of phishing messages in an ongoing campaign impersonating myGov.
  • If you receive a text message claiming you are eligible for a 'myGOV Refund' do not click on it. Texts claiming to offer a myGov refund are a scam.
  • The message will tell the recipient that after an annual calculation, they are eligible for a refund.
  • It will include a monetary figure with AUD after it, and a link to complete an eForm.
  • Don't click on links in emails or text messages claiming to be from myGov. myGov will never send you a text, email or attachment with hyperlinks or web addresses.

Scam targets Amazon Prime customers

  • People are being reminded of a scam continuing to circulate that involves people impersonating staff from Amazon Prime.
  • People should always be wary of callers claiming you owe money to Amazon or other companies and that funds will be taken from your bank account if you do not act immediately.
  • Scammers may also ask you to go online to confirm your personal details or Amazon account information.
  • Amazon does not ask customers to disclose or verify personal or account information over the phone.
  • If a call sounds suspicious, hang up immediately.
  • Never give personal information over the phone unless you can independently confirm who is calling.
  • Find out more about phone scams, or visit the Scamwatch website for information about phishing scams.

Woolies chat bot

  • Scamwatch is warning of a scam that impersonates Woolworths through a chat bot. A chat appears welcoming the user to a "Woolworths interactive prize universe" and asks to confirm their name to check a prize claim of a $250 gift voucher. This is a scam.
  • Do not provide your address or credit card details, or click on the prize option buttons. You will not receive the prize or gift voucher.

JB Hi-Fi text scam

  • Scamwatch is warning the public of a wave of scam texts impersonating JB Hi-Fi.
  • The text states "you made a purchase in our JB-stores in 2020 and entered our draw by doing this". The text includes a hyperlink. This link takes the person to a website that looks similar to JB Hi-Fi's official site, but is not. It prompts the user to click a link to claim their prize. This is a scam.
  • Do not provide your personal or financial details to these scammers.
  • JB Hi-Fi's official website is jbhifi.com.au. Any JB Hi-Fi special offers or competitions can be found on this website.
This story Scamwatch: Scammers target tax file numbers first appeared on Port Stephens Examiner.