AGGRESSIVE phone scammers have been targeting Albury-Wodonga this week with police, accountants and individuals reporting calls that claim to be from the Tax Office.
People are lodging their claims, so it appears at the moment there is a spike. It is the time of year to be a little bit more vigilantInspector Scott Russell
The callers typically tell the intended victim they have a tax debt and need to pay a certain amount to clear it.
Even if no money is exchanged, the scammers aim to trick people into revealing personal information that can then be used in identity fraud.
Freedom Accounting Group partner Ryan Gleeson said he and colleague Marian Adams on Thursday heard from three clients who had received such calls.
Mr Gleeson said he knew of two other recent cases as well.
“They tell you you're being chased because of tax evasion and they go after you very aggressively and basically say you need to pay some money to sort it out," Mr Gleeson said.
"They try and tell you that you don't need to tell anyone; if you just pay it, it will stay very quiet.
"When Marian actually rang one of the numbers back and challenged them, saying, 'I think you're a fraud', they just hung up."
A Howlong couple in their 80s returned an answering machine message on Thursday to be told they owed a $4990 tax debt, with a $50,000 fine and they could lose their house if it wasn’t paid straight away.
"We weren't taken in but somebody could be taken in, they could get a hell of a fright ,” the husband said.
The couple informed police and then decided to ring the caller’s number back after hearing of another Howlong incident.
"You could tell when my wife tried to interrupt him to ask a question, he was reading off a sheet," the Howlong man said.
Inspector Scott Russell, of Albury, said police had received several calls lately about phone scams claiming to be from the tax office.
"People are lodging their claims, so it appears at the moment there is a spike," he said.
“It is the time of year to be a little bit more vigilant."
Insp Russell said people should never give out their personal details over the phone.
Mr Gleeson said the scammer’s “fallback position” would be to confirm your identity.
"Get your tax file number, get your date of birth and then they can go and lodge a false tax return,” he said.
“Claim a refund … the tax file number doesn't lead back to them, it leads back to the person that they've duped.”
- Editorial – page 27