Police are warning people to be aware of a tax scam.
Police are warning people to be aware of a tax scam.

Scam alert: Fraudsters target Northern Rivers residents

AN INCREASING number of people on the Northern Rivers have been targeted by tax scams, and police have now issued a warning.

Over the past couple of days police have received numerous reports in relation to scams involving the use of the Australian Taxation Office.

Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Jameson, said fraudsters were contacting members of the public by phone and deceiving them into paying sums of cash.

"These scam artists will call people on their landline telephone or mobile and claim they work for the Australian Tax Office," he said.

"The victim is told to make a payment via Western Union or other money transfer agent.

"We also stress that personal information, from your birth date and address, to your banking details, are incredibly valuable to criminals who can use that information to access your financial accounts or set up fake identities which are then used to commit other crimes."

If you are contacted by anyone purporting to be from the Australian Tax Office and saying you owe money, police urge you to do the following:

• Check with your tax agent.

• Hang up the phone and contact the ATO yourself

• If you suspect it is a scam, report the matter to your local police station immediately.

Police urge members of the public to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of being scammed by cold callers:

• Never provide your personal or banking details to a person who cold calls you;

• Be careful what personal information you provide over the phone, even if you are the person who made the call;

• Never provide your financial PIN or account passwords over the phone;

• If you have been cold called on a landline, consider making any further calls on a different phone or check that the line is free by calling someone you know first;

• If you are suspicious about the credentials of a person on the phone, ask questions - what's their street address, telephone number, Australian Financial Services Number - if they avoid answering then it could be a scam;

• Never transfer funds to a person or an account you do not know.

To find out more information about scams, to report a scam or to find out other ways to protect yourself, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au

If you have been the victim of a scam, you can also report it to your local police station.