Messages from the ATO

Messages from the ATO

Tax time is like open season for scammers, and nothing makes tax time more taxing than accidentally giving out personal details to cybercriminals impersonating the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

These scammers have been known to call people demanding immediate payment for fake debts or fines, and will often make threats of imprisonment, deportation or cancelled government grants. It can be scary, and it can catch you off guard, so here are some of the most common warning signs to look out for and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed.

Warning signs

  • You receive an urgent message to call a number. This could be a text or a voicemail.
  • The caller acts in an abusive and inappropriate manner and threatens arrest.
  • They ask you to make a payment so you can get a refund.
  • They ask you to make a cash withdrawal from your bank account.
  • They ask for payment using an unusual alternative method, like by gift cards or in cryptocurrency.
  • They suggest you make a payment via a swift transfer or Western Union.
  • The ATO will never act in an abusive or offensive manner
  • The ATO will never ask you to make a payment into a bank account not held by the Reserve Bank.

Things to remember

  • You don’t have to stay on the phone with someone that is threatening your pressuring you. Simply hang up, and if in doubt, call the ATO directly.
  • Don’t respond to texts or emails claiming to be the ATO.
  • Never provide your personal details.
  • To keep up with information and advice on current ATO scams you can visit the ATO website.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • If you have made a payment to a scammer, again contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop the payment for you.
  • Report your experience to This helps us and other government agencies warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.
  • Tell someone you trust. Scams can be scary and they can really rattle your confidence. Most importantly, they aren’t your fault! It might help to talk things through with a trusted friend or family member.