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Dangerous Scams Impersonate ATO and Medicare: What to Look For

Dangerous Scams Impersonate ATO and Medicare: What to Look For

By Prime Advisory, 27 February 2019

Scams relating to the Australian Taxation Office and Medicare have been doing the rounds. Here’s what you need to know.


Reports have emerged of people receiving suspicious calls and messages from scammers claiming to represent well-known organisations, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Medicare.

The scams are geared towards compelling the recipient to hand over personal information—or scaring them into making an unsolicited payment.

Here is a rundown of the various cons…

Tax Scams

The ATO has warned about the emergence of two scams.

In the first, scammers are using an ATO phone number to send a fraudulent SMS to taxpayers.

As part of the message, the scammers are asking the recipient to click on a link and provide their personal details in order to obtain a refund.

The second variety follows a more sinister four-phase approach, based around alerting the recipient to a supposed warrant that is out for their arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years.

The scam starts with a text message purportedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Within minutes, a person’s mobile phone rings, and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. Then, they ask for the contact details of the recipient’s accountant.

Those who submit this request are typically greeted with a call purportedly from their ‘accounting firm’, asking them to verify the AFP/ATO claims.

Finally, they are provided with a way to make the AFP ‘go away’ by paying a fee before their supposed imminent arrest—but only if they act quickly.

What the ATO Says

The ATO states that it will not:

  • 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
  • Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail, or deportation
  • Request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency, or direct credit to a personal bank account
  • Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you

Medicare Scam

A new phishing scam has involved the sending of text messages purportedly from Medicare, advising the recipient that they are owed a $200 rebate.

Once the person clicks on the ‘reclaim’ link, they are asked to provide their personal details in order to receive the rebate—including bank account information.

What to Do About Scams

If you receive any suspicious messages, never click on a link.

It’s best to contact the registered office of the ‘sender’ for more information, or alternatively speak with your accountant or advisor.

Get in touch with the team at PrimeAdvisory if you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of any communications you receive.

Send an email or call us on +61 02 9415 1511.


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      The information contained on this website has been provided as general advice only. The contents have been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned on this website, consult your own financial advisor to consider whether that is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.