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ATO warns of fake TFN, ABN services on the rise

The Australian Tax Office is urging prospective business owners to remain vigilant of fake websites offering tax file numbers (TFN) and Australian business numbers (ABN) for a price.

Advertised on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, these fake websites offer to obtain a TFN or ABN for a nominal fee but instead steal money and personal information.

“We are concerned about a recent increase in the number of victims reporting scams around TFN and ABN applications,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh.

“We are also still seeing scammers impersonating the ATO, making threats, demanding the payment of fake tax debts, or claiming a TFN has been ‘suspended’ due to fraud.”

Last year, over $800,000 was lost to ATO impersonation scams.

Prospective business owners are reminded that applying for a TFN through the ATO and an ABN through the Australian Business Register (ABR) is entirely free. Those who apply through a tax agent are strongly encouraged to check that the agent is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

“We are encouraging everyone to be on alert and take the time to remind family and friends to be on the lookout and stay safe online, so you don’t fall victim to a scam this tax time,” added Mr Loh.

Other important tips to protect yourself from scammers include:

  • Be cautious of suspicious links, attachments, or files that ask for personal or financial information
  • Stay informed of legitimate ways to make payments to the ATO
  • Don’t continue communications over phone, text, or email if suspicions are raised. Instead, reach out to the ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 or visit ScamWatch for more information

READ ALSO: ATO urges caution in claiming tax-deductions for flood donations

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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