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What is a Tax scam?

When scammers claim to be from the tax office or other government agencies and threaten you with arrest, legal action or make demands to force you into handing over your money and/or personal details.

Example of scam*

Jane received a call from someone identifying themselves as a representative of the Australian Tax Office. She was told she had a tax debt and if she did not pay it immediately, she would be arrested and go to jail.

Jane was instructed to purchase iTunes gift cards (the caller told her iTunes was an acronym for Income Taxation Underpayment Notarised Electronic system). These would be used to pay her debt.

The caller was very persistent, and the threat sounded legitimate. Jane did not want to be arrested, so she went to her local supermarket as instructed by the representative and purchased $3,000 worth of iTunes gift cards. She provided the card numbers to the representative as instructed.

This was a scam and Jane unfortunately lost her money. 

Signs this may be a scam

Pay to release your suspended or compromised TFN.

If a caller claims to be from the ATO and asks you to pay a fine or transfer money to a holding account to release your tax file number (TFN), hang up. Do not pay or give out any information.

Links to ATO or MyGov sites to provide personal info.

Do not give out your personal details such as driver’s licence, Medicare card and bank account or click on any links from emails or SMS that claim to take you to the ATO or MyGov websites.

Tax debt threat of arrest.

Do not pay or give out any information if a caller says you have a tax debt and threatens you with arrest unless you pay immediately. Hang up. 

Pay a tax debt via unusual methods.

If someone claims you have a tax debt and demands unusual payments such as gift cards, cryptocurrency or wire transfers, do not pay. Hang up, delete the email or SMS.


Australian government agencies will never threaten you with immediate arrest, demand immediate payment through unusual means over the phone, or send you links to log in or update details for your government account (MyGov, Service Australia). If in doubt, contact your tax agent or the ATO via an independently sourced number.

Remember – never share your passwords or security codes with anyone.

What you can do if you
come across a scam

Let us know

Get support and stay in the know

  • IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit
  • Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check in the Westpac App.

Things you should know

Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac and the ACCC. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.