Staff members at BHR Papalia in Bunbury have recently seen an increase in the number of people being targeted by potential scammers.
“With the rise of online activities, people’s email addresses and phone numbers are more readily accessible to scammers and fraudulent businesses,” BHR Business Manager Kellie Smith said.
“This year, we have seen scammers calling people and saying they owe the ATO money. The calls are very aggressive and make threats that the person will be put in jail within 48 hours if they do not pay the debt. They then ask you to go to the Post Office or a supermarket straight away and buy iTunes or other gift vouchers, which will be used to pay the debt.”
Kellie said these calls can be very intimidating, especially if people aren’t fully up to date with their taxes or aren’t sure if they really do owe money to the ATO.
“It’s important to note that the ATO will never make contact by phone and demand payment like this. More importantly, you cannot pay any debt with gift cards,” she said.
“Always contact your accountant or a trusted advisor to confirm if you do owe money – but never make payment without verifying the facts first.”
BHR Papalia have been contacted by a variety of clients who have received these calls, indicating that the scammers are targeting anyone they can.
“Other scams we have seen include emails made to look like they are from ASIC asking businesses to renew their business name, emails from your bank asking to verify bank details and also false bills such as telephone or utilities,” Kellie said.
“In today’s world where everyone is busy and emails are an everyday form of communication, it is easy to confuse a fraudulent email with a real one.”
The key things to look for are:
“If you receive an email and you think it could be a scam, do some research,” Kellie said.
“Google search the company or the email address it has been sent from. If it claims to be a business or company you deal with regularly, navigate to their website by searching the internet, and do not click any links on the email. If you are ever unsure, contact the company it claims to be from and ask for verification or confirmation the email is legitimate.”