Bogus government agency scam

Video transcript: Bogus government agency scam (Word, 25KB)

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How the scam works

The scammer pretends to be from a government department to trick you into paying them money. Scammers have represented themselves as the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Consumer Affairs.

In a popular version of this scam, the scammer sends an email advising you have unclaimed tax returns. They ask you to pay a processing fee to release the funds and may ask for your bank account details to claim a tax rebate. Remember, you will never have to pay to claim a tax return from the ATO.

In another version, the scammer claims you must register, for a fee, to comply with legislation that applies to your business.

If in doubt, always check directly with the government agency before you pay any fees. For a full list of government departments and agencies, visit the Australian Government Directory website.

Be wary of any letter or email from a government agency, especially one that asks you to pay money or provide bank details. Scammers often copy government logos and letter formats. The copied logos may appear with pixels or be blurry or a slightly different colour.

Protect your business:

  • Government websites usually end in .gov.au. Bogus government agency scam emails often direct people to fake websites. 
  • Call the government agency to check the letter or email is real. Use a phone number you know is legitimate, not the phone number provided in the letter. 
  • Government departments will not ask you to make a payment to get benefits that you are owed.

Last updated: 06/09/2016

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