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ATO phishing emails

Tax time could really be taxing if you give out personal details to scammers impersonating the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

WA ScamNet has renewed its warnings about fake tax communications after fresh reports of emails claiming to be from the ATO. The message entices consumers to click on a link, which takes them to a webpage where they can enter their banking and personal information to apparently receive a tax refund.

If you receive an email like this, do not click on the link or provide the requested information.

Tips for spotting if it’s a scam:

  • The message is unexpected and is not from a legitimate @ato.gov.au email address
  • The link doesn’t take you to the authentic ATO website
  • The message may contain spelling or grammar errors
  • The ATO advises that it will not use email, text messages or social media to ask clients to update their personal information or supply their tax file number, credit card or bank details

If you have clicked on the link and given out personal or banking information:

  • Call your bank as soon as possible and arrange for an alert to be placed on your account to avoid unauthorised payments coming out
  • Contact ID Care to discuss changing passwords and other personal documents
  • Report the incident to WA ScamNet

Sometimes you can tell it’s not really from the ATO by checking the sender’s address. Although it might say ATO or something similar in the sender box, the return email address next to those words might be a non-Government email address and usually if that’s the case it will be from a free email account provider.

However a technique called email spoofing means that sometimes scam emails will say dot gov dot au as though it’s from a genuine Australian Government email account even though it isn’t.

Usually the email’s offering a tax refund or it might be asking you to update your details.

The body of the email will ask you to click a link – never do this as this is how the scammers will get your details.

You can be sure the ATO won’t ever contact you out of the blue to offer you a refund or to update your details in this way.

The ATO has a great online security page where you can see scanned examples of bogus ATO emails sent by scammers at ATO refund/phishing scams

For more information, see the ATO’s own resources on scam alerts and Be Aware of What You Share.


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