The 78-year-old became suspicious when he received the unusual text message asking for his tax file number on his mobile. The message asked him to tap on a link to the Australian Tax Office.
George, who did not want to provide his surname for a fear he may be further targeted, said he wanted to warn others of the scam.
“I haven’t worked or paid tax in more than seven years,” he said.
The message also introduced the instruction with: “Hi George”.
“I became suspicious straight away. The ATO would never start a message with, ‘Hi George’. And why would they want my tax file number; they already have it.” He immediately deleted the message.
George, who immigrated to Australia in 1955, said it wasn’t just the elderly and those that didn’t have English as a first language, who were susceptible to scams.
“They are polished these days. The scammers are able to trick people no matter what your age, education, language or background,” he said.
The ATO said it would never ask for a tax file number through a text message link, and people should be wary of any phone call, email, or letter about a tax refund or debt, especially if it wasn’t expected.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says while the ATO regularly phones taxpayers, sends emails and text messages each week, there are some tell-tale signs that it could be a scam.
“Taxpayers can play their part in stopping scammers by reporting them to our scam line,” she said.
“Your reports help us to get an accurate picture in what is happening with the current scams, which ultimately helps the Australian community.”
The ATO’s dedicated scams line is 1800 008 540.
Further information on how to protect yourself is available at staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime18.
The ATO will not:
• Email or SMS you asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.
• Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation;
• Request payment of a debt via iTunes, pre-paid visa cards, cryptocurrency (for example bitcoin ATM); or
• Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.