Tax time scams Mon 23 July 2012 Nick McKim Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection The Minster for Consumer Protection, Nick McKim, has issued a warning about the growing number of telephone and e-mail scams that attempt to lure Tasmanians into paying for 'dodgy' tax return services which claim to guarantee the greatest possible tax refund. Mr McKim said the fake e-mails used the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) insignia and the message will generally identify the sender as being an employee of the ATO. "This year the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading has also been alerted to people who have received text messages which claim to be able to return thousands of dollars to the recipient overnight," he said. "This time of year, when people are looking to prepare their tax return, provides the prime opportunity for scammers to target unsuspecting consumers and businesses with the promise of large and often too good to be true tax refunds. "A further risk of these scams is that as soon as these scammers get any form of personal information, such as a consumer's name or bank details, they can commit identity fraud, or, in the case of tax scams, lodge a tax return in your name. "I would like to remind Tasmanians that neither the ATO, nor any other Australian or State Government department, will ever ask consumers to provide credit card details or copies of personal identification such as a driver's licence or passport in an email. "If you receive such an approach it is almost certain to be a scam and the best course of action is to delete, destroy and ignore it. "I encourage anyone who is suspicious of any correspondence they have received that offers to deliver a sizeable tax return in record time or asks for personal details, to report the matter to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading. "This applies to telephone calls, e-mails or mail." Mr McKim said the ATO has already reported that it had received over 5,000 reports of tax related e-mail scams and over 3,000 incidents of telephone tax related scams. "My advice to both consumers and businesses is to remain vigilant and, if in doubt, to contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading's Advisory Service on 1300 654 499 or visit the ACCC's ScamWatch web-site at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au.