An uptick in reports about fake websites offering to provide tax file numbers (TFN) and Australian business numbers (ABN) for a fee has been flagged by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
The agency is reminding consumers this information can be obtained for free online via government services portals such as the ATO’s ‘apply for a TFN’ function and the Australian Business Register’s process for obtaining an ABN.
In a statement, ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said the fraudulent services were being advertised on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“We are concerned about a recent increase in the number of victims reporting scams around TFN and ABN applications,” Loh said.
“We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud.”
In all cases, the scammers will not provide TFN or ABN details to consumers and use the exercise to collect personal information. The fee will not be refunded.
According to the ATO, more than 50,000 people reported ATO impersonation scams in 2021, with victims losing a combined total of more than $800,000.
Loh advised people to check if their tax agent was registered with the Tax Practitioners Board if they were engaging these services to apply for a TFN or ABN.
“We are encouraging everyone to be on alert and take the time to remind family and friends to be on the lookout and stay safe online, so you don’t fall victim to a scam this tax time,” he said.
The government agency is reminding any person in doubt about the integrity of a website of service, not to engage.
“Never give out your personal information unless you’re sure of who you’re dealing with,” the scam watch notice reads.
“Phone the ATO’s dedicated scam line, 1800 008 540, to check if it is legitimate. You can also verify or report a scam online at ato.gov.au/scams. You can also visit ScamWatch to get information about scams (not just tax scams).”