Tax Refund Scams to Avoid If You’re Running a Small Business

Every year, Australia and the world witness new digital threats; through the advent of new viruses, new scam tactics or hackers who grow smarter by the day. Now, as we’re in the midst of the Australian tax season, tax scams are at its peak. A small business is usually a prime target for tax-related scams due to their size and normally, lack of cyber security. Knowing what to expect can help you prevent your small business from being a target; especially if you are proactive in your approach towards cybersecurity.

Tricks generally used by scammers

When a tactic is reliable or tends to work a majority of the time, scammers tend to stick to it. However, when successful, the media will often cover reports on the same – update yourself with the latest information available. These scams could revolve around the following tricks:

  • Tax Refund Scam

The scammers claim that your taxes are overpaid. Hence, you are eligible for tax refunds. In order to get this fund, you’ll be asked to deposit a fee.

  • Tax Owed Scam

The scammers tell you that your taxes are underpaid. Therefore, you need to repay your taxes immediately. It can be a direct money transfer or through indirect means.

  • ATO Impersonation

Scammers take a number and update it over the internet as an ATO personnel number. So, when they call, the caller id shows it as an official call by an ATO representative. On the call, they ask for immediate tax payment. They tend to threaten and intimidate you. In the end, you might make a rash decision without giving a second thought.

  • Surprise Refund

If your personal information is not secure enough, it might land in the hands of scammers. Once they have their hand on the data, they can file a fraudulent refund on your behalf. The refund might even get approved and is transferred to your account. Then these scammers contact you saying that you have been credited by mistake. And ask you to return that amount.

  • Cancellation or Suspension

The cybercriminals usually make calls saying that your personal data or certificates are at risk. They would say that these certificates can soon get cancelled. If you want to avoid cancellation, you have to pay your taxes immediately.

Safe practices to act upon

When you’re aware of what to expect, you can actively defend against a potential scam. Preparing in advance could deter any potential scam attempts too, if a scammer or hacker deems targeting your business is too much effort. A simple but effective recommendation is to install an antivirus software for a small business, which several cybersecurity firms provide as part of a package.

These can help cover multiple areas and perform functions such as:

  • Setting up a firewall that acts as a gateway and separates internal and external networks.
  • Turning on spam filters thereby reducing the chance of receiving a spammers’ messages.
  • Prevents any type of virus from crawling into your system.
  • Has a built-in anti-spyware that keeps your personal information safe.
  • VPN solutions that help make your browser safer.

Tips that you should keep in mind

  • If you receive any tax-related message or email, don’t click on any link. Instead, open websites through official channels to check details.
  • In case the officials seem to pressurize you or threaten you, don’t trust them. Hang up and call back on the official number listed on the Government website to follow up on your account.
  • Be alert when the person on call asks you to send money through wire transfer or gift cards. No government employee will ask you to do so. Always use legitimate channels.
  • At times, you might feel that something is suspicious about a tax-related message or call. In that case, call 1800-008-540 to report a scam.

We live in a digital era, in the midst of a pandemic. As we increasingly shift towards making transactions via digital channels, the level of risk is bound to increase simultaneously. Just as we continue to adapt, so do scammers. Being cautious and best arming yourself with an antivirus software where you can, will at least help defend against basic threats.


Author Bio: Bridget

Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.

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