‘Alarming scam’ costing young Aussies their savings

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning of an automated scam call that is duping Australians out of everything they have.

Since 1 January 2021, the ATO has received 638 reports of scammers pretending to be from the ATO, telling people their tax file number (TFN) has been compromised and requesting the call recipient to either pay a fine to release their TFN or transfer all bank funds into a holding account to protect it from future misuse.

So far, seven victims have been duped by the scammers into paying out nearly $118,000.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 have paid the most under this new tactic, with one person losing $36,000 just a week ago.

Assistant commissioner Trent Jakubowski said that while the number of people paying these scammers is low, the large amounts being lost per person is alarming.

“We’re seeing that instead of scammers asking for a specific amount of money, they’re requesting victims to transfer every last dollar in their bank account,” Mr Jakubowski said.

“What’s most malicious is that, in some cases, these scammers are stealing money under the guise of saving it from other fraudsters trying to access their account.”

The ATO said the robo-calls follow two common scripts:

Your TFN has been suspended as scammers have your TFN details. You need to transfer all your money to the ATO in order to protect it while we sort it out.

Your TFN has been used illegally and you need to move all the money in your bank account to a holding account pending the outcome of legal action.

“This is a reminder for everyone to keep their guard up when answering an unexpected call. While we more often hear stories of older Australians being targeted by scammers, these devastating losses show that anyone can be a target,” Mr Jakubowski said.

The ATO is warning taxpayers it will never:

  • send unsolicited pre-recorded phone messages
  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
  • suspend your TFN
  • request direct transfers of money to a personal bank account
  • project their number onto your caller ID

To find out more, or to review your current loans and financials safely, get in touch with a Centra Money finance specialist for a confidential and obligation-free appointment at (08) 8211 7180 or info@centramoney.com.au.

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