SARS warns taxpayers of phishing scams

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has warned the public of scams that are defrauding taxpayers.

The syndicate saw fraudulent incidents or unauthorised changes of tax practitioners and/or taxpayers’ eFiling profiles changed with the sole intention to defraud SARS and affected taxpayers.

SARS in a statement said the fraudulent activities were carried out by individuals who gain access to eFiling profiles through phishing or other nefarious scams to change a legitimate taxpayer’s bank details to divert refunds.

The revenue collector said the individuals also submitted fraudulent tax returns to generate refunds.

It said: “SARS takes all necessary steps to mitigate security breaches of our information systems and there is no evidence of the SARS systems being hacked; instead they remain secure.

“In the past week, several changes were implemented to augment the integrity of the SARS systems”.

The changes include a process to advise tax practitioners when their access to taxpayer/client profiles are removed as well as an enhanced personal income tax and eFiling registration process, amongst others.

SARS said the changes were done to make it difficult for criminal elements to obtain sensitive information and then perpetrate fraud.

To safeguard eFiling profiles, SARS has urged tax practitioners to ensure that profile credentials were not shared within their practices or companies. 

“All eFiling user access within practices or companies must be routinely reviewed and where required employee access should be revoked, particularly when an employee leaves the practice or company. The public is urged to always be alert for phishing scams that call for the sharing of sensitive identity and banking details,” SARS said.

Incidents of fraudulent or unauthorised changes of eFiling profiles can be reported to the SARS Anti-Corruption and Fraud Hotline on 0800 00 2870. Taxpayers and tax practitioners are urged not to use social media platforms, such as Facebook, to report such incidents or disclose sensitive information.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has sent a strong message to fraudsters engaged in the swindle. “Let me leave no one in doubt about SARS’ capacity and capability to deal a massive blow to those hell-bent on these criminal activities.”

Working with other law enforcement agencies, SARS said it would leave no stone unturned to hunt and find these criminals.

“This is no idle threat, be warned,” said the Commissioner. –