SARS warns public against scams

By Staff Writer
With the opening of tax season last week, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has warned people about falling for phishing emails requesting personal information in the guise that the emails come from SARS.
 
Lesedi Seforo, team leader of SARS Operations at the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (Sait), has warned that criminals are extremely active during tax season.
 
Through the increasing use of eFiling to submit tax returns, people are becoming easier targets for scams and phishing due to the electronic nature of the system.
 
Identifying scams
 
Seforo offered the following tips to help prevent people from falling victim to these scams:
·         Do not open or respond to emails from an unknown source.
·         Be cautious of emails that ask for personal information, as SARS and other financial institutions such as banks, will never ask for this personal information in an email. This type of information includes: tax or banking information, passwords, pins, login information, eFiling details and so on.
·         “SARS will not request your banking details through the phone, email or on its own or any other websites,” stated Seforo.
·         Be cautious of false SMSs, these may ask for similar information that is contained in phishing emails, also asking for personal information.
 
Scammers send victims emails claiming that they are eligible for a tax refund. Email addresses that have been used in the past include: returns@sars.co.za or refunds@sars.co.za.
 
However, Seforo stressed: “These emails contain links to false forms and false websites made to look like the real thing, but with the aim of fooling people into entering personal information such as bank account details which the criminals then extract and use fraudulently.”
 
If you are uncertain about whether or not an email that you have received is legitimate, you can contact SARS to validate it on 0800 00 7277.
 
To report any scams that you come across, you can email phishing@sars.gov.za or call the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 00 2870.

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