More than 37,000 ATO phone scams have been reported in one month.
More than 37,000 ATO phone scams have been reported in one month. Pixabay

Australians lose more than $800,000 in ATO phone scam

PHONE scammers purporting to be from the Australian Taxation Office have swindled Australians out of more than $800,000 within one month, the tax office has today warned.

The ATO has revealed it received around 37,000 reports of scam attempts in November alone, with one elderly person conned out of more than $236,000.

The sophisticated phone scam, which uses software that resembles a legitimate phone number, has seen callers threaten people with arrest, claiming they have been caught evading taxes.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson today urged people to be aware of the tell-tale signs they could be receiving a scam call.

"The ATO does not project our numbers using caller ID. You can be confident that if there is a number displayed in your caller ID, it isn't the ATO," Ms Anderson said.

"Taxpayers should be wary of any phone call, text message, email or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if you weren't expecting it.

"While phone scams are the most common at the moment, scammers are constantly changing tactics. Taxpayers should still beware of unsolicited emails and SMS, with more than 6,000 people handing over their personal or financial information to scammers since July this year."

So are you being contacted by a scammer? Here are some of the signs:

- Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation.

- Request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a bank account with a BSB that isn't either 092-009 or 093-003.

- Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

- Send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.

To report an ATO scam, call 1800 008 540.