Scam alert: fake tax refund emails going around

With consumers digging out their receipts in anticipation for a big refund from the Australian Taxation Office, an old scam has reared it’s ugly head in attempt to catch you with your pants down.

It’s only been a few days into the new financial year, but already the phishing scams have started in an attempt to siphon cash from your wallets.

We here at GadgetGuy have already pegged onto at least two attempts that were worded as follows:

Dear Applicant:
After the last annual calculation of our fiscal activity we have determined that your tax refund was miscalculated.
Please provide us with payment details for your tax refund.

Tax refund pending: $ 1400 AUD

Please apply online to get it.
Atention this ChargeBack is available only if you apply online.
Please submit the tax refund and allow us 3-9 business days in order to process it.

It’s probably worth nothing that this is fake, and while we’ve removed the links from the “apply online” phrases, we can tell you that we sure didn’t go to the official ATO or bank sites when we clicked on them.

So how do you tell the difference between fake and real?

Spelling and grammar

We probably don’t need to tell you that most of these scam artists work from other countries, and that probably means English will be a second or third language. As such, you may have noticed that “Atention” was wrong in the above email, as was the “ChargeBack”.

Phrases like “Please apply online to get it” don’t even feel like the sort of wording the ATO would use in an email. These sorts of errors are normal for fake emails and are the sort of mistakes the official places are unlikely to make.

Basically, if it reads like it’s been written by a three year-old, be skeptical.

Don’t click on the link

If you’ve received an email for a refund, it’s likely the ATO already has your details. Whether those are an address to send a cheque or EFTPOS for your bank account, it’s worth mentioning that they don’t need you to click on a link.

So don’t click on the link.

If you click on the link

If you click on the link, take note of the site you’re actually at by looking at your URL. That’s one area the scammers can’t actually fake. They can get close, but only if you don’t pay attention.

For instance, when we clicked on the “apply online” links, we were greeted with the following site:

Fake ANZ site

That’s not the official site, and you shouldn’t trust any site that doesn’t sound like the www dot what it should be. If there’s a different dot com before the bank or government organisation, there’s a high chance that you’re about to be scammed.

Compare that to the ANZ’s real website address which looks like this:

Real ANZ site

One last tip we need to impart on you is the most basic to look for: the padlock. If what you were looking at was real – like the ANZ site – it would probably be secured by one of those nifty little padlocks that appear on websites where security is paramount. Try finding that on the fake link.