ATO continues to educate taxpayers about scams

The ATO has committed to an ongoing strategic communication approach to educate taxpayers on how to protect themselves against tax scams and identity theft. It says it is also aiming to raise awareness on how people can reach out to it for support should they become victims of a scam.

In early 2017 the ATO’s Be aware of what you share video and advertising campaign were highly successful. It reports that there were 8.6 million views of the advertisements, more than 800,000 video views and 12,600 clicks on these ads. “Findings from the campaign are now being used to inform the future strategic approach to scams and identity protection communications,” the ATO says.

It maintains multiple web pages on scams ranging from identity security, protecting your information, and advice for tax practitioners, businesses and individuals. It reports that these webpages together have been viewed nearly 120,000 times in the last half of 2016-17, with the most popular page being Verify or report a scam.

ATO social media content warns followers about current scams in the community and advises people how to protect themselves and what to do if they suspect they’ve been affected. There have been seven ATO Facebook posts on this topic so far this year, and it says engagement with these posts has been high.

“A new postcard has been developed,” the ATO says, “and has been widely distributed at community events in order to share key messages with vulnerable audiences who may not be reached by digital channels, advertising and social media.”

As well, major retailers and financial institutions continue to integrate customer warning notices into their business to try to combat some of the most common scam payment methods. including iTunes gift vouchers and direct transfer into fake “ATO” bank accounts.

In early June the ATO issued a media release and associated audio grabs. A statement on recent reports of refund fraud was issued on July 19 in response to reports of taxpayers receiving refunds well in excess of what they’d anticipated.

Over 2017 so far, 13 articles have been published in the ATO’s tax professional newsletter, with a focus on raising awareness of scams, how to spot scams, protecting oneself from security fraud, reviewing security to stop fraud and protect your clients, fraud prosecutions, malware and ransomware warnings.

ATO continues to educate taxpayer about scams ATO continues to educate taxpayer about scams ATO continues to educate taxpayer about scams