Keep watch for inevitable wave of scams

The federal budget is behind us, and amid the celebrations over tax cuts (about $500 annually for low to middle income earners), now is the time to be mindful of scammers pretending to be from government bodies – especially the Tax Office.

Money watchdog ASIC has recently warned about crims posing as ASIC representatives asking victims to pay bogus fees.

They often make contact via email, accompanied by an invoice that infects your computer with malware if you click the link. Protect yourself by looking for warning signs that show an email isn’t from ASIC at all.

The clues include requests to make a payment in order to receive a refund, or if the email asks directly for your credit card or bank details.

Scammers are also sending fake emails asking for completion of a 'tax refund review' form to allow recipients to receive a refund. The Australian Tax Office is warning not to click on or save any attachments as they may download malicious malware.

Above all, do not disclose the personal information the form is requesting.

In many cases, scam emails are easily spotted.

Have a close look through the email, and you will typically find that scam messages are poorly written with some pretty obvious spelling mistakes.

The email may ask you to click what appears to be a link to the Tax Office website but when you hold the mouse over the link, it won’t have the official ato.gov.au address.

If you are unsure if a phone call or voicemail is from the tax man, call the Tax Office on 1800 008 540.

Paul Clitheroe is chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.