WARNING: Listen to the chilling voice message you may get


Scammers are conning Australians into providing their tax details and credit card numbers in a chilling phone message that warns they risk arrest over a tax debt.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher warned today the scam calls were a real problem and criminal gangs were involved in increasingly sophisticated scams to dupe taxpayers.

In the latest scam, an SMS or phone message is urging people to hand over personal details or risk arrest.

"Attention: this call is from the legal department of Services Australia,'' the message states.

"Your Tax File Identification Number has been suspended and we have filed a case under your name. So, before this matter goes to Federal Court and you could get arrested kindly press 1. I repeat press 1 to know about your legal case."

But Mr Fletcher said it was just the latest example of scams that are being used to obtain personal information.



"Yes, we do have a significant issue with scams,'' he said.

"The ACCC leads project called Scam Watch and the ACMA, the Australian communications and media authority within my portfolio, is leading a major portfolio within the industry on how we can crack down on scams.

"One of the issues has been that a lot of scammers have been using so-called spoofing or overstamping of the number from which the call appears to originate. So Australians will get a phone call. It will look like it's coming from a well recognised number that's used by the Australian Tax Office or another well known organisation that advertises inbound numbers.

"They're very large scale criminal operations, so use of software to identify a particular source as these numbers come from."

Mr Fletcher was also asked about the proliferation of conspiracy theorists on YouTube including an individual who defamed Nationals MP Anne Webster and were ordered to pay $875,000 in compensation.

"When you think about how our society has changed over the last 30 years, we are living in a time where any one of us is able to post content which can potentially be seen by thousands, hundreds of thousands,'' he said.

"The internet, which has transformed all of our lives and in many ways is a very positive force, but it also has some consequences because you can - any one of us can say something defamatory or abusive

or reveal private information about somebody else and make that extremely widely available, at virtually zero cost, and governments around the world are working through, and it's taken quite some time, all the different policy challenges that that creates."

The Australian Tax Office is urging Australians who are receiving the scam calls to call 1800 008 540, or go report a scam - which shows how to spot and report a scam.

"We're concerned about the increasing number of people paying fake tax debt scammers,'' a spokesman said.


Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. Picture: Gary Ramage/NCA NewsWire
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. Picture: Gary Ramage/NCA NewsWire


"Scammers pretending to be from the ATO are contacting members of the community, telling them that they have a tax debt and that if they don't pay it straight away they will be arrested."

The ATO's official advice if you're concerned that a phone call, SMS text message, voice mail or email you receive claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is not genuine is not to reply to it.

"If you receive a phone call, text message or voicemail like this, don't send payment or provide any personal information. Hang up and delete the message," a spokesman said.

"We will never threaten you with immediate arrest or demand payment through unusual means.

Recent scam alerts this year include the fake tax debt phone call and SMS alerts that have been received this month.

In June and July there were similar SMS and email scams asking users to verify your myGov details.

In May, another phone scam requested bank account details for the JobKeeper payment

If you receive an SMS or email from the ATO that you think is fraudulent, report it by sending an email to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au or reportascam@servicesaustralia.gov.au. If you have clicked on a link or provided your personal information, contact Services Australia on 1800 941 126.

Originally published as Chilling voice message you may receive