The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has warned taxpayers about a new WhatsApp scam targeting their personal information.
Sars this week noted a rise in complaints about fraudsters posing as officials from the revenue service and asking for taxpayers’ personal information via the instant messaging app.
It said fraudsters were using a range of deceptive methods to get taxpayers to unwittingly provide them with personal information used to defraud them and Sars.
“The fraudsters may use your personal information in such a way that can result in you having increased tax liabilities to Sars and you can even become the subject of a criminal investigation. You have to be vigilant at all times and protect your personal information from falling into the hands of fraudster‚” said Sars.
What should I look out for on WhatsApp?
Sars said fraudsters are contacting taxpayers directly through messaging services such as WhatsApp‚ depending on what information they already have about you.
The person making contact with you may claim to be working at Sars — using the name of a person who does work at Sars — and will indicate that they are contacting you on behalf of Sars.
“WhatsApp and similar messages and SMSs may contain links which you are encouraged to click on. These links may contain Trojans which fraudsters will use to gain access to your device to steal personal information from you.
“These links can be marked as ‘Outstanding Debt’‚ ‘Final Demand’ or anything which will compel you to click on the link and may also contain Trojans to gain illegal access to your device.”
What about other social media platforms?
Sars said another way fraudsters were tricking taxpayers was by advertising their services on social media platforms such as Facebook.
The adverts may have the Sars logo and fictitious or real company names and addresses.
“Rates charged for services are either very low or it may be based on a percentage of refunds obtained. These rates are often outside the range changed by legitimate tax practitioners.
“The fraudsters will ask you for personal information to enable them to assist you and then use the information to defraud you and/or Sars‚” it said.
How can I avoid being scammed?
Sars said taxpayers’ information held by the service can only be accessed using proven authentication methods‚ such as access using unique usernames and passwords and access confirmation using one-time passwords (OTPs).
“Sars officials will not ask you for information such as ID numbers or tax numbers. Neither will it ask you for your banking details and bank account access details such as PIN numbers or for your eFiling password.
“If a person contacts you claiming to be from Sars‚ taxpayers are advised to ask them for their contact details — e-mail address (which must be in the format firstname.lastname@example.org) and office telephone numbers.
“Ask the caller to send you an e-mail using their Sars e-mail address. Contact Sars using contact numbers provided on the website and ask to speak to the person who called you.”
Source: ARENA Holdings.