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What is a tax scam?

When scammers claim to be from the tax office or other government agencies and threaten you with arrest, legal action or other demands to force you into handing over your money and or personal details. 

What they're after

Tax scams are after your personal information and/or your money.

Signs this may be a tax scam

A caller, claiming to be from the ATO, says your tax file number (TFN) has either been suspended or compromised. You must pay a fine or transfer money to a holding account to release it.

  • Hang up. Do not pay or give out any information.

An email or text message asks for personal information or provides a link to the ATO or MyGov websites to enter your personal information such as driver’s licence, Medicare card and bank account details.

  • Do not click on the links or provide any personal information.

A caller says you have a tax debt and may threaten you with arrest unless you pay immediately.

  • Hang up. Do not pay or give out any information.

A person claims you have a tax debt, asks you to pay with in an unusual way such as gift cards, cryptocurrency or wire transfers.

  • Do not pay. Hang up, delete the email or text message.

The Australian government agencies will never threaten you with immediate arrest, demand immediate payment through unusual means over the phone, or send you links to log in or update details for your government account (MyGov, Service Australia). If in doubt, contact your tax agent or the ATO via an independently sourced number. 

Remember – Never share your passwords or security codes with anyone. 

Tax scam example*

Jane received a call from someone identifying themselves as a representative of the Australian Tax Office. She was told she had a tax debt and if she did not pay it immediately, she would be arrested and go to jail.

Jane was instructed to purchase iTunes gift cards (the caller told her iTunes was an acronym for Income Taxation Underpayment Notarised Electronic system). These would be used to pay her debt.

The caller was very persistent, and the threat sounded legitimate. Jane did not want to be arrested, so she went to her local supermarket as instructed by the representative and purchased $3,000 worth of iTunes gift cards.

She provided the card numbers to the representative as instructed.

This was a scam and Jane unfortunately lost her money. 

Who should I contact if I encounter a tax scam?

  • Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to BankSA at 13 13 76 or +61 2 9155 7850 (if calling from overseas).
  • Contact the Australian Tax office on 1800 008 540, go to their website page Verify or report a scam or email them at
  • Contact IDCARE toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit their website They provide free, confidential support and guidance to people who have been targeted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise.


Important information

*Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac and the ACCC. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.