SARS issues warning over scam e-mail

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pretoria - The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has cautioned taxpayers against a number of scams which have been circulating in recent days which seek to obtain people's bank and other personal details.

"The first involves emails being sent to unsuspecting taxpayers informing them that they are owed an income tax refund and requesting them to complete a refund form in order to get the fictitious refund," SARS reported.

This fraudulent "refund form" copies the SARS eFiling logo and website style and asks the taxpayer to provide their debit or credit card number and pin numbers.

The second scam is aimed at Value Added Tax (VAT) vendors and also uses a copied SARS eFiling letterhead. It requests that VAT vendors make all VAT payments into a fraudulent bank account, SARS confirmed.

Both scams have been referred to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SARS' criminal investigation divisions for further enquiry.

In a statement, SARS reminded taxpayers that they should never divulge personal details and banking details to anyone over the telephone, email, fax or internet without establishing the true identity of the recipient.

SARS eFilers are only notified via email or SMS that their income tax assessment has been processed, and no additional banking information will be requested from the taxpayer.

To access their IT34, the eFiler is required to log in to their unique profile on eFiling using their username and password. The IT34 will then reflect whether the taxpayer is due or a refund or additional tax on assessment.

If a refund is due to the taxpayer SARS automatically pays the refund into the taxpayer's bank account; provided that the details are correct.

If banking details are not correct the taxpayer must visit a SARS branch office with supporting documents to correct the bank account details.

"To prevent fraud, SARS last year did away with issuing of refund cheques and will only pay refunds into verified bank accounts.

"In this regard SARS has contacted approximately 150 000 taxpayers whose bank account details were not provided on their income tax return or who bank account details could not be verified to request that they correct these to receive refunds due," SARS said.

To prevent fraud or "phishing", these taxpayers are required to correct their details in person at a SARS branch.

To report criminal activities, you can call the SARS Anti-Corruption and Fraud Hotline on 0800 002870.