SARS scam alert

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July 7, 2016

A4-ImageThe South African Revenue Service (SARS) has recently alerted small businesses to a new scam in which criminals, posing as SARS officials, demand outstanding payments of undeclared taxes.

There have also been a few incidents where scammers demand money for ‘wiping off’ SARS debts.

SARS stressed that it is not in the habit of sending agents to collect debt from individuals or businesses. All outstanding tax, VAT or duties must only be paid directly into a SARS bank account and any outstanding accounts must be handled directly by its offices.

SARS stated that no money should be paid over to debt collectors or self-proclaimed SARS officials. “In fact, collectors who want money to be handed over to them must be immediately reported.”

Scams like this are nothing new, there is a whole section on the SARS website which creates awareness of the various scams and provides contact details for reporting anything suspicious.

Other typical examples of SARS scams include e-mails that come from ‘returns@sars.co.za’ or ‘refunds@sars.co.za’. These e-mails often contain links to false forms and false websites and are intended to con people into entering personal information such as bank account details, Internet logon credentials and other security details.

There tends to be an increase in e-mail scams and phishing attacks during tax season. With the tax season opening on 1st July 2016, we all need to be on the alert for e-mail and SMS scams doing the rounds.

SARS has issued these guidelines to help taxpayers avoid being caught by a scam:

  • Do not open or respond to e-mails from unknown sources.
  • Beware of e-mails that ask for personal, tax, banking and e-filing details (login credentials, passwords, PINs, credit/debit card information, etc.). SARS will never ask taxpayers for such information in an e-mail.
  • SARS will not request banking details through the phone, e-mail or Web sites.
  • Beware of false SMS’s.
  • Taxpayers will never be sent hyperlinks to other sites, even those of banks, and the SARS site does not have any links to any banks.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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