This time of the year always brings out a whole host of unscrupulous people who’ll try to take advantage of the more unsuspecting among us. A particular favourite among scammers is pretending to be the ATO and attempting to take away your refund or advising that you have a tax debt outstanding but insisting on payment in unusual forms such as iTunes cards.

I have had clients who’ve been approached, taken in by and burned by these types of scams. Remember, the ATO will not call you regarding a debt and ask you to pay in any forms other than cash – by bank transfer, of course. There will always be communication by mail in the first instance, most likely through me, as your tax agent, initially.

If you are contacted by the ATO and harbour any doubt about the legitimacy of the contact, please call us first, before you take any action – most especially before handing over payment of any kind.

Another client recently received an email requesting a change to the banking details for where a deposit was supposed to go. This email was highly sophisticated and even the financial institution involved could not believe the apparent authenticity of it.

If you ever receive a request to change the banking details of a creditor, financier etc. please check directly with them first, using independently sourced phone or email details – do not rely on any details supplied within the suspicious document.

Don’t become the latest victim, if you have been requested to change bank details, double-check with the person making the request, by phone or email. Do not reply to a suspicious email as it may be a fake address, and there’s no point in confirming to the scammers that you’re actually there.

A little caution and awareness can keep the scammers at bay, helping avoid a lot of disruption and expense to you and your business.

Mark Calleja – at call me on 02 9923 2959