12-229MR Public warned about scams impersonating ASIC and ATO
Monday 17 September 2012
ASIC has today warned the public against acting upon on an email claiming to be from ‘Barbara DuFrene’, the purported Chairman of ASIC and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The email, which claims that recipients are entitled to receive a tax refund by clicking on a link provided, is a scam. ASIC urges anyone who receives it or something similar to hit the delete button immediately.
In addition to this email scam, ASIC has been alerted to phone calls made by people claiming to be from ASIC. These calls connect to an automated service seeking payment for ASIC fees. These calls are not from ASIC. ASIC does not use automated services to collect payments.
ASIC Commissioner, Peter Kell, said, ‘Scams are designed to trick you into providing either money or personal information. An increasingly common tactic to gain consumer trust is for scammers to pretend they are from a Government agency or a financial institution. The scammers will come up with all sorts of stories to encourage you to part with your money (such as fees, fines, overpaid taxes, refunds, bank fees or compensation).
‘Scams can be very convincing and sometimes quote your personal information such as your address, phone number and date of birth to sound genuine. Their offers can also be very attractive but don’t be lured by the false promises. Protect yourself by conducting a few basic checks before acting on an email or phone call out of the blue’, Mr Kell said.
How these scams work
You receive a call or email out of the blue that claims you are eligible to reclaim money for overpaid taxes, bank fees or compensation.
The caller or sender pretends to be from a government department, financial institution or trusted organisation.
In order to receive your money, you will often have to pay an up-front fee to cover ‘administration fees’ or taxes.
The scammer will typically ask you to send the money via a money transfer service.
You may also be asked to provide personal or financial details.
If you are contacted and told that you are entitled to money in exchange for an up-front fee, ignore it – if you hand over your money, it’s gone.
If you receive a phone call or email out of the blue claiming that you are entitled to reclaim money for a fee, hang up or press ‘delete’.
If you’re not sure whether the call or email is a scam, verify who the caller is by using their official contact details to call them directly. Never use contact details provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
If the caller or sender claims to be from the Government, remember: government departments will never contact you asking you to pay money upfront in order to claim a fee or rebate.
Never send money or give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust – it’s rare to recover money from a scammer.
If you think you’ve provided your bank account or credit card details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling ASIC on 1300 300 630.
The Australian Government website www.australia.gov.au is a safe portal for finding government services.