Clever 'ATO' scam emails in circulation

May 6, 2019

Sophisticated fraudulent emails purporting to be from the ATO are currently in circulation.

Like many email scams, the emails ask the recipient to take action such as clicking a link for the promise of a tax refund. The emails are increasingly sophisticated, on the surface often indistinguishable from official ATO communication. Australians are being warned that these emails are a scam, and to err on the side of caution before opening or clicking unknown links in these emails.

Clicking a link in the fraudulent emails often takes the recipient to another page where they are asked to fill in personal details, which are then stolen.

The scam emails can be identified in a number of ways.

  • The sender’s name in the ‘from’ field may be edited to look like an email address ending in ‘ato.gov.au’. However, the genuine email address of the scammer, hidden from view, does not end in the correct suffix.
  • Other hints can include: no use of your name, poor quality logo, poor spelling and grammar, or the message being unexpected.

The email scam is just one of many which may catch recipients unawares. The ATO has noted a surge in phone calls from scammers claiming to be officers from the ATO, demanding money and in some cases threatening legal action if money is not paid immediately.

People of any age can be a target for scammers, so it is important to raise awareness amongst family and colleagues, and remain vigilant.

If you receive a suspicious or unexpected email from someone claiming to be the ATO, or another official organisation such as ASIC, ascertain the legitimacy of the email by contacting the organisation before taking further action. It’s recommended you use the contact information provided on the organisation’s website, rather than those enclosed in the email to ensure your enquiry is addressed by the legitimate party. Alternatively, Pitcher Partners clients may wish to contact their advisor who can assist with determining the legitimacy of the email and provide additional guidance.

You can also stay up-to-date with the latest scams on the ATO website.


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