Guiding consumers since 2009

SARS scams: Don’t be a victim

By Jessica Anne Wood

Attention all taxpayers! There appears to be several scams doing the round at present, with the fraudsters claiming to be from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Justmoney received correspondence from a reader highlighting an email he received which claimed that he had funds owed to SARS and that legal action was being taken against him. The email provided a document which had to be completed and sent back to SARS so they could get the money supposedly owed to them. The reader contacted SARS to confirm the validity of the email, as he was not aware of any outstanding funds owed to SARS and was informed that it was indeed a scam.

Subsequently, Justmoney contacted SARS for clarification on the matter. They stated: “The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is aware of fraudsters deploying a range of deceptions to scam unsuspecting taxpayers.

“E-mails sent to taxpayers that are purportedly from SARS, and people impersonating SARS officials engaging taxpayers about alleged outstanding or undeclared taxes, are two of the most common methods that are used by scammers.

“Members of the public are urged not respond to e-mails from unknown sources. Any correspondence can be verified by contacting the SARS contact centre or the nearest SARS branch. SARS will never ask that a payment be made into any other account.”

Furthermore, SARS urged taxpayers to report these types of scams to the police to avoid further exploitation of vulnerable taxpayers.

How to avoid falling victim to a scam

SARS advised that taxpayers keep the following in mind when dealing with tax related issues:

  • Verify any correspondence or personal identification cards by contacting the SARS contact centre (0800 00 7277) or your nearest branch.
  • SARS officials are legally required to present a SARS identity card when interacting with taxpayers. Specific information on these cards can first be verified with the SARS contact centre (0800 00 7277) or at a SARS branch.
  • Do not make any immediate commitments or provide any personal information including banking details except through direct contact with SARS Contact Centre (0800 00 7277) or branch visit.
  • SARS does not endorse commercial ventures, programmes, schemes and offers. The legitimacy of payment channels can be verified via the SARS contact centre (0800 00 7277) or on the SARS website.

How will SARS contact you?

There are a number of avenues that SARS will use to contact taxpayers, including email. However, the tax entity noted that there are certain things that they will never ask for. For example, SARS will never request your banking details in any communication that you receive via post, email or SMS.

“For the purpose of telephonic engagement and authentication when you contact the SARS contact centre, SARS will verify your personal details and identity,” said SARS.

The Revenue Service added that taxpayers are reminded not to open or respond to emails from unknown sources. You must also be aware of emails that request your personal, tax, banking and eFiling details (login credentials, passwords, pins, credit/debit card information, etc.). Furthermore, SARS will never send you hyperlinks to other websites, even those of banks.

How to contact SARS

The location and listing of all SARS offices and branches can be found on the SARS website.

More information on scams can be found by:

  • Visiting the SARS Scams and Phishing webpage on www.sars.gov.za
  • Emailing phishing@sars.gov.za
  • Calling the SARS Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 00 2870, or
  • Calling the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.

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