In November alone more than 37,000 reports of scam attempts were reported.
This spike in scam phone calls has resulted in more than $800,000 being reportedly lost in one month, with has caused the ATO to issue a high alert.
Scammers are using a software that resembles a legitimate phone number. However, the ATO will never show their number in caller ID.
Also, while the ATO does contact taxpayers by phone, email and SMS, they will never threaten you with arrest. They’ll also never ask you to make a payment of a debt via iTunes or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn’t either 092-009 or 093-003.
Please be cautious if you’re contacted about a tax refund or debt, especially if you aren’t expecting it. Don’t hesitate to hang up and call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check the legitimacy of the call.
Although the ATO are the most common types of phone scamming, fraudsters are also claiming to be from Telstra, the NBN and Microsoft. These scams are called called ‘remote access’.
There has been a 298 per cent increase in reported financial losses to remote access scams alone according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
These scammers will try to convince you that there is a problem with your computer or internet. They’ll likely tell you that you need to buy new software to give them access to your computer to ‘find out what the problem is’.
Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently, so even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register, you can still receive scam calls.
If you suspect anything:
• Hang up if it’s a phone call, and call the business back to check it is legitimate
• Do not reply to any text messages or emails, or open attachments from anybody you do not know
• Close you web browser or switch off your computer to be extra cautious if a suspicious pop up appears
If somebody has been successful in gaining Remote Access or you feel your details have been compromised in any way:
• If you’ve made a payment or suspect your details are at risk, call your financial institution
• Disconnect your computer from the internet. The simplest way is to turn off your internet modem
• Take your computer to a technician who can scan for and remove any viruses or malware that might have been installed
In some financial institutions’ eyes, if a scammer has been successful in receiving money from you through remote access, you may be deemed as complicit and not receive your money back.
This is because you have actively provided access to your computer and your personal details. You’ve essentially given permission.
We recently experienced this with a client who unfortunately had two bank accounts compromised through remote scams, with a similar amount being taken from both.
Whilst one institutions system recognised this as an unusual transaction and stopped it, the other didn’t. Instead, they initially recognised this as being the client’s responsibility.
After a lot of negotiation from a member of the Treysta team, we were fortunately able to work with the institution to get the client a great outcome.
With plenty of cheers in the office when we heard the great news, we hope this will act as precedent for others that might find themselves in the same situation going forward.
Having somebody act on your behalf in circumstances like this can prove to be a great help – taking the pressure off you, after what can be a traumatic experience.
It can happen to anybody
As with anything, it’s better to be safe than sorry and know that scammers do not discriminate.
Just this week:
• a member of the team received a voicemail claiming to be from the ATO threatening legal action, and
• a call to the office line claimed we had problems with our internet connection and it would be cut off if we didn’t respond immediately
We can all play an important part in helping to protect each other against scams, by reporting to either the ATO scam line or the business the scammer claims to be from. This helps companies to get an accurate idea of new and current scams – and do their best to prevent them.