Refund scams: ATO taxes and bank fees
If you receive a call or email claiming you’re entitled to reclaim overpaid tax or bank fees, ignore it – these scams are doing the rounds.
The scammer will typically pretend to be from a government agency, bank or private law firm claiming you are entitled to reclaim your overpaid tax or bank fees. They may also tell you that the refund is taxable and you will have to pay the tax amount before receiving the refund, or that you have to pay a fee to receive your money. You may think the story is legitimate because both tax time and bank fee refunds have been in the news lately. The scammer may also trick you by appearing to have personal information about you.
Watch out: the scammer is after your personal information and often your money. They may ask you to confirm your personal details, or claim you need to pay an upfront payment to receive the refund. The scammer will claim to be from the Australian Taxation Office or a fictitious government agency and state that you need to pay a fee or tax in advance to claim the refund.
SCAMwatch urges you to never pay money upfront to receive ‘free’ money – this is advance fee fraud. Australian Government departments will never contact you via phone or email to ask you to pay tax or upfront amounts in order to claim a refund. If you do pay, you will never see your money again. You should also never confirm or provide personal details over the phone or by email as you never know what the scammer can use it for.
If you receive a phone call, SMS or email out of the blue from someone claiming you are entitled to a refund, hang up or delete the message immediately.
Activate your alarm bells if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government or a financial institution. Verify who they are by independently finding their contact details and contacting them directly.
NEVER provide or confirm your personal details, or give money to someone unless you made the contact using details you have found yourself and you trust the other party.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.
You can report suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam) to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The Queensland Police Service has also issued a media release about this scam.[link no longer available]
The ACCC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority have issued a joint media release on phone scams.