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'Record' Number Of Robocall Scammers Are Pretending To Be The Tax Office

A "record" number of scammers are using 'Robocall' technology to make phone calls from what appears to be a real tax office number. 

That's the latest warning from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which is seeing an "unprecedented" number of scam reports.

Members of the public report being contacted by a number claiming to belong to the ATO, demanding an outstanding payment of a tax debt.

Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said scammers are targeting taxpayers across the country using the 'spoofing' technique.

"Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages ... and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer," he said on Thursday.

"We are now seeing thousands of Australians missing a call from a scammer, returning the call based on the number on the caller ID and speaking to legitimate members of the ATO."

ATO calls do not show a number on caller ID, nor does the office use pre-recorded messages.

It has so far received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams this year, with just over $1 million in losses.

READ MORE: How To Spot The Email Scam Targeting Optus Customers

Siebert said those scammers who make contact will typically request illegitimate payment of a tax debt through bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers.

"The scammers will threaten you with immediate arrest, attempt to keep you on the line until payment is made and may become rude or aggressive," he said.

While the calls may appear legitimate, Siebert said there are some clear, tell-tale signs that it isn't the ATO calling.

The ATO will never:
  1. Show a caller ID or use pre-recorded messages
  2. Threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation
  3. Demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin or gift cards
  4. Request a fee in order to release a fund owed to you
  5. Refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted adviser or regular tax agent

Members of the public are warned to never call a scammer back on the number they provide, and to instead call the ATO to check if the call was legitimate -- or report a scam.

For more information, head to the website.

Featured image: Twitter via ato.gov.au