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Home Scams Watch Out for ATO Tax Debt Scams Delivered Via WhatsApp

Watch Out for ATO Tax Debt Scams Delivered Via WhatsApp

by Brett M. Christensen

Image: © depositphotos.com/Pe3check

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning people about a new scam campaign that uses the cross-platform messaging service, WhatsApp.

In a recent scam alert, the ATO notes:

There has been an increase in scammers using WhatsApp to impersonate the ATO. Current reports indicate the scam is the latest twist to the fake tax debt scam where scammers issue a pre-recorded voice message to your phone demanding immediate payment of a tax debt and threatening immediate arrest. In addition to requesting payment via unusual methods, the scammers may also ask call recipients to send a photo of their driver’s licence, passport or other identity credential via WhatsApp. This may result in far reaching identity compromise for victims.


The ATO does not have a profile on WhatsApp and will never engage with you on this platform.

Scammers also use live phone calls, automated phone messages, and SMS to distribute such scams.

Some versions, like the current WhatsApp scams, threaten arrest or other dire legal consequences if you do not immediately pay a supposed debt via a credit card or gift cards such as iTunes cards.

Similar scams target taxpayers in many other countries. Be wary of any WhatsApp message, phone call, SMS, or email that purports to be from your country’s tax agency and demands that you immediately pay a supposed debt or supply sensitive personal and financial information.  Your tax agency is very unlikely to send you such a message.

If you receive one, do not reply, click any links or attachments, or provide any personal information.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,