The tax season and the systems involved are prime targets for phishing and scams. All the right ingredients are there; a good dose of fear of the tax man coupled with millions of rands changing hands and a degree of uncertainty about the process among average South Africans. Enter the scammers.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has warned of numerous scams aimed at taxpayers, corporations, tax practitioners and even banks themselves.
Ranging from the issuing of fake third party appointment (AA88) notices, to emails, SMSes and even physical letters or phone calls made to look like official SARS correspondence – the lengths scammers will go to trick people should not be underestimated. As quickly as scams are exposed, new ones are masterminded.
Scams via email
Considering the range of scams currently tracked by SARS, it’s indisputable that email is by far the most prevalent platform for tax scams. The sheer volume of different types of email scams that have been recorded posing as SARS is quite staggering. Just some of these examples include:
- Asking the recipient to fill in details to receive a tax refund
- Issuing of false Tax Clearance certificates that ask the user to enter their email ID and password
- Claiming SARS have changed their banking details
- A SARS Learner-ship scam asking for payment for registration
- Emails urging the recipient to complete their eFiling to receive their refund before the deadline with links to a phishing site made to look like the eFiling interface
- False FICA approval letters and certificates of Good Standing
- ‘Spoofed’ emails that appear to be from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
How to stay protected
As the tax season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the scams that exist – and just as important to anticipate new ones. In order to protect yourself and/or your company, it’s highly recommended to follow these essential safety tips:
- Be extremely weary of emails from unknown sources – don’t open them and don’t click on any links or attachments that they might contain
- Make sure you complete your tax return on the secure eFiling site. SARS will never request your banking details in any communication via email, SMS or post.
- Go directly to the eFiling site (sarsefiling.co.za) by typing the URL yourself or download the official mobile app – do not follow links from emails or untrusted sites.
- Be suspicious of any communications received stating, for example, that an IT34 Notice has been issued on your account or any other activity when you have not completed your tax return or used the eFiling system.
- As a rule, SARS does not place any hyperlinks to any websites in their emails and communications.
If you suspect you may have received suspect communication or if you have fallen victim to a tax scam, inform SARS immediately by sending a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 00 2870.
If you’d like to discuss your corporation’s data security during tax season or if you want to request a consultation, get in touch with the Cyanre team here.