Warning: Australian Taxation Office scam emails circulating

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Warning: Australian Taxation Office scam emails circulating

"Tens of thousands" of emails pretending to come from the ATO are circulating, according to a new warning issued today.

ATO email scams are nothing new, but today we received warning that "tens of thousands" of dodgy tax office emails are appearing.

The messages pretend to come from the Australian Taxation Office. The subject line is "To all Employees - Confidential Message", according to MailGuard, which blocks spam for businesses.
Here's what the latest ATO spam email looks like
As you can see in the image of the contents of the email below, the message appears to indicate there is a document waiting to be viewed or printed. The attached file is actually malware, according to MailGuard.
Here is an image from the contents of the email, supplied by MailGuard:
Does the ATO ever send out emails?
Yes. Here's what the ATO web site states:
"From time to time, we will send you emails, SMS or post messages on our official social media profiles promoting new services or alerting you to due dates, for example tax time is approaching or that your business activity statement is due. However, we will never send you an email requesting you to confirm, update or disclose confidential details like your name, date of birth, address, passwords, credit card details etc."
They also state:
"We will never contact you about owning us money without sending out a notice or account summary."
Dodgy emails: who to watch out for
We asked MailGuard who would be on the list of organisations commonly impersonated by spammers and here are some names they gave us:
  • ATO
  • NAB
  • ANZ
  • St. George
  • Commonweath Bank
The ATO has been a favourite of spammers for some time. In this article, MailGuard estimated that in one week, the number of ATO scam emails was "2% of all spam to Australian businesses".
How they're trying to trick you
The ATO has been warning Australians about this issue too.
They have a web page listing techniques being used to try and convince you emails like this are legitimate. These techniques include:
  • Saying you've made a mistake in your tax return
  • Saying you've got a refund.
  • Using an official looking email address: eg. "refunds@ato.gov.au"
  • Saying you've qualified for "subsidy benefits"
  • Emails asking for forms to be sent in to an actual ATO address.
Here are two other business scams to watch out for.
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