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Tax time is prime time for scams

Scams come in all shapes and sizes. They also seem to come more often and are harder to recognise, especially when you have more people working for you.

Which is exactly what happened to one of our clients and that’s why we have decided it may be time for another warning and a refresher on how to avoid them.

 

Business expense payments requests

 

The scams may look like valid requests to make payments to third parties which include payment instructions or invoices. The fraudsters can even send emails posing as Senior Executives within your organisation by compromising their real email accounts or setting up fake ones. Often, these emails will be targeted particularly at staff that have the authority to perform the transaction.

 

Five tips from Commbiz to help avoid these scams

  1. Watch out – for warning signs like obvious grammatical or spelling errors and odd or different invoice formatting.
  2. Always question – unusual emails and phone call requests for payments that ignore your standard procedures and timeframes.
  3. Follow your process – Make sure requests and payment details are checked and confirmed by validating BSB and Account details with multiple approval steps.
  4. Check changes – Have clear procedures in place to check requests to change established payment details or procedures. Verify the legitimacy by contacting the sender using another communication channel, such as phone.
  5. Think twice – Exercise restraint when publishing employee (including details about employee travel) and company information such as hierarchies and structures on your website or on social media.

 

Tax payments requests

 

The ATO is also reminding Australians to be on the lookout for tax-related scams during tax time, as scammers are particularly active because of the large number of people lodging their tax returns.

Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said that, while most people were able to identify scams, it is important to remain alert during tax time.

For example, although the ATO makes thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers a week, there are some key differences between a legitimate call from the ATO and a call from a potential scammer:

“We would never cold call you about a debt; we would never threaten jail or arrest, and our staff certainly wouldn’t behave in an aggressive manner.  If you’re not sure, hang up and call us back on 1800 008 540”.

 

ATO also warns against identity theft

The ATO is also reminding Australians to protect themselves against identify theft this tax time.  Highly organised crime networks use a range of methods to steal personal information in order to commit refund fraud.

The ATO recommends:

  • shredding documents containing personal details (especially their tax file number (TFN)) before throwing them away;
  • using legitimate and up-to-date antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware software; and
  • making sure passwords are strong, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, don’t share them with anyone, and ensure they are changed regularly.

If in doubt, give us a call to confirm your ATO liability before making a payment.