‘Highly Sophisticated’: Tax Time Scams Put Public on High Alert

Australians should remain vigilant against tax time scams, warns the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA). In June 2023 alone, Australians lost $38 million to scams, according to government data.

Leanne Vale, COBA’s financial crimes chief, highlighted that the end of the financial year is a prime time for scammers to strike. Common tactics include fake sales, fraudulent tax return offers, and bogus deductible donation schemes.

“Scammers are very sophisticated in their approach,” Vale said. “If you suspect you have been scammed, contact your bank or card provider immediately. They might be able to stop the transaction and freeze your account.”

Vale noted that criminals often tailor their scams to current events. During tax season, many people are making deductible charity donations or shopping during end-of-year sales, making them more susceptible to scams.

Consumers are advised to verify website legitimacy by checking for privacy terms, contact details, and terms and conditions. Australian websites should have a URL, and domain names can be verified on the Australian Domain Authority’s website register. Emails offering bargains should be approached with caution—always visit the retailer’s official website directly rather than clicking links.

“Scammers can create fake websites that mimic real retailers, using logos and ABNs to appear legitimate,” Vale warned. “Always verify the website you’re buying from, and be cautious if a deal seems too good to be true.”

Vale also urged caution regarding fake myGov emails and text messages, which often create a sense of urgency by threatening account suspensions or penalties.

Charity scams are another common issue during this period. “Scammers exploit people’s generosity, especially in June when many are making charitable donations,” Vale said. “Be vigilant before you donate.”

To ensure donations are legitimate, they should be made only to registered charities. Avoid clicking on links in emails or social media posts, and if contacted by phone, hang up and call the charity directly using a listed number. Donations to registered deductible gift recipient charities are tax-deductible if they are $2 or more.

Back to top button