Don’t get scammed this holiday season!
With the Christmas holiday season almost upon us it is important for everyone to be aware of scam activities over this period. Holiday time is an active time for scammers with most professional businesses closed or operating with minimal staff.
I thought I would share some of my business experience and knowledge to ensure you have a safe and happy Christmas and can start the New Year with all your financial assets in safe hands.
My 3 important tips to sniff out a scam;
- If the offer is too good to be true, then it isn’t true
If someone emails, texts or calls you offering millions of dollars just to provide your bank details, then they want to steal from you, not give you free money. The main purpose of communicating with you is to get your bank details, not help with your retirement. Never provide your bank details to anyone you don’t know.
- The Australian Tax Office (ATO) threatening legal action on tax debt
Like the majority of Australian businesses the ATO allows their staff to take time off over Christmas to be with family and friends. Usually they do computer system upgrades over this period as most accountants are off on holidays as well. They still continue to operate, but with a skeleton staff and as a rule they never chase outstanding tax debt on public holidays. If you receive an email, text or phone call threatening legal action for an outstanding tax debt you weren’t aware of ignore it until the first business day of the New Year. Call the ATO at 9.00 a.m. on the first business day of the New Year to check if the debt is real. Even if you do have an existing ATO debt, if you are contacted by someone saying they are from the ATO, do not discuss the matter, leave it until after the Christmas period and contact the ATO direct or call us to contact them on your behalf.
- Never be forced to make a quick decision without seeking advice
For 51 weeks a year (in most cases) when a business owner needs help and advice it is always there. They can call, email or see their accountant, solicitor or bank manager to ask for help, before they make an important decision. The Christmas holiday period is the exception to the rule, with accountants & solicitor on leave and banks closed for public holidays. Who do you call if you need help when your professional advisers are not contactable?
At these times you are vulnerable and scammers know this, hence their desire to push you into making a rushed decision without time to think or seek help. No deal is that important that you have to make a decision immediately or you will miss out on millions of dollars, especially when you have never met the caller or the person who emailed you.
Be calm, take a deep breath and think about what they are asking you to do. If you have any doubt, don’t do it. Hang up, ignore the email and contact someone you trust to discuss the supposed “special offer” you have been given. Remember never provide any financial information to people you don’t know over the Christmas period.
It is also important to be aware that these scammers don’t always talk in millions of dollars, some of the most successful scams involve small amounts of money from a lot of people. So beware no matter what dollars are involved.
Have a great Christmas period with your family and friends. The Hamilton Taggart Business Advisors team will be doing the same with our office closing at 5.00pm this Thursday and re opening at 9.00am on Monday 9th January 2017. Be safe if you are traveling and the team at Hamilton Taggart Business Advisors looks forward to working with you again in 2017 and beyond.