Tax Scams: How To Spot Them And How To Deal With Them

5 min read
Tax season can be stressful for many people – and this stress can make you more vulnerable to scammers, who strike at the end of the tax year, hoping to gain an advantage at your expense.
There are unfortunately many different ways that scam artists can trick both individuals and small businesses from parting with their hard-earned money at the end of the financial year. So it literally pays to be aware of the most common tricks, as well as some of the new and creative ways these criminals will try to get a foot in the door.
Here are some of the most common methods in play right now:

Telephone scams


Scammers pretending to be from the ATO are calling people and telling them they have a tax debt that they need to pay straight away. 

While the ATO will use phone, email and SMS to contact you, they will never: 

  • send a pre-recorded message to your phone 

  • threaten you with immediate arrest 

  • demand payment through unusual methods like gift cards or payments to personal bank accounts 

  • insist you stay on the line until a payment is made. 

Phone calls from the real ATO will show up as 'No caller ID' on your phone.  

If you're ever unsure whether it's really the ATO, do not reply. You should phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check or contact your tax agent. 


Text message scams

Another scam involves a text message supposedly from 'ATO refund' offering a tax refund to the recipient. If you click on the link, you’ll be asked for your personal details, Tax File Number (TFN) and credit card number, including the three digit security code on the back. Supposedly, this is so the refund can be deposited in your account but, in reality, it's so that the scammer can steal money from your credit card.
A slight variation on the same scheme involves the scammer asking for a small fee to be paid via your credit card in order to access your refund. Shortly after paying, much larger deductions will be charged to your card.

Email scams

Phishing scams, in which fake emails are sent out that appear to be from the ATO are also popular and these often feature a subject line that includes the words “tax refund”. These can include a link to a fake website that asks you to enter all of your confidential personal information such as your Tax File Number, bank account details, date of birth, home address and employment information. Or, alternatively, the email may contain a link that unleashes a virus on your computer.

SMS and email scams – cryptocurrency 

Scammers pretending to be from the ATO are telling people they are suspected of being involved in cryptocurrency tax evasion. They are then asking them to ‘connect their wallet’ and provide detailed information via a link. 

If you receive an SMS or email like this, don’t click on the link. It will take you to a fake myGov log on page, designed to steal your personal information. 

Scams advertised on social media 

There have been an increasing number of scams, often advertised on social media platforms like, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram involving fake tax file number (TFN) applications. 

These scams tell people they can help them get a TFN for a fee, but instead of delivering this service, these fraudulent websites steal the person's money and personal information. 


Be aware – and take action

All calls, messages and emails of this kind should be treated with extreme caution. The ATO, Centrelink, banks and financial institutions will never contact you to request verification of personal details for any reason, including tax returns.
Do not click on any link in the message or email, or call a phone number provided by the email.
If you are unsure about the authenticity of a phone call, text message or email, hang up the call, ignore the message, and contact the official company communication line to verify.
Unfortunately, the clever methods of these scammers are often successful, with more than $2.1 million paid to tax scammers pretending to the be ATO during the 2019 year.
If you have provided a scammer with funds or provided personal details, immediately notify the relevant institution – your bank, the ATO or police authorities about your compromised personal details to receive prompt and relevant advice.

How to identify an official correspondence from H&R Block
All official H&R Block correspondence will come from the below email domains & SMS numbers – these may change over time so if you receive something from a different domain or number, please contact us immediately to verify its authenticity.
Email domains used by H&R Block:
SMS numbers used by H&R Block:
  • +61488884960
  • +61418840223 

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