Tax scam targets councillor

FRAUDSTERS have been targeting Frankston residents by calling and claiming fictitious tax bills are overdue and must be immediately paid.

Frankston councillor Glenn Aitken is one of many who received a phone message from a man claiming to represent “the federal office of taxation” last week.

The caller falsely claimed Cr Aitken had an affidavit against his name for tax evasion.

“It was very unpleasant. He claimed my property was under surveillance and I had to contact them urgently or else state enforcement agencies would be visiting me and I’d be in dire trouble.”

Cr Aitken called the number left by the so-called office of taxation to inform the man he would be reporting the attempted fraud to the police.

“These people are predators,” he said.

“There are people who are vulnerable and would be scared and could disclose their tax file number and bank details.”

The councillor is worried that some Frankston residents who are elderly or have learning difficulties could be intimidated into paying money to the fraudsters.

The Times called the 02 6172 0217 number given to Cr Aitken but the call went directly to voicemail each time.

The Australian Taxation Office is aware of the threatening “fake tax debt” phone scam.

Assistant tax commissioner Thomas Ryan said the ATO makes thousands of calls to taxpayers each week, but would never contact taxpayers about a debt in a threatening way. He urged people to protect their personal details.

“We take your privacy seriously. We urge you to be alert to these types of scams and never send money or give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust,” Mr Ryan said.

“Generally the ATO would send an SMS or letter to remind you that a payment was due. If we don’t get a response from this we would then call you to discuss payment,” Mr Ryan said.

If people receive a call from the someone claiming to represent the ATO and are concerned about providing their personal information over the phone, they should ask for the caller’s name and call back through the ATO’s switchboard on 13 28 69.

If people think they may have fallen victim to a phone scam, contact the ATO on 13 28 61 (8am–6pm, Monday to Friday).

See the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission site for information on common fraud attempts faced by consumers and businesses.

First published in the Frankston Times – 24 August 2015

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