Business owners beware. Scam artists now posing as SARS officials.
We’ve all seen those e-mails. A long lost relative living in an obscure town in the middle of nowhere has passed away and bequeathed you millions. Or those SMS’s claiming you’ve won R750 000 and all you need to do is to call Mr Ben. Some scams are easy to spot. The latest South African Revenue Service (SARS) scam might not be.
In early 2013, scam artists targeted members of the public directly via a fully branded SARS e-mail, enticing them to share sensitive information such as bank account details. Recently, they’ve turned their focus to Small Businesses. In what seems to be a new wave of scam, lawbreakers have contacted Small Business owners either demanding so-called outstanding payments on undeclared taxes or offering to wipe away SARS debt for a set fee.
To further complicate matters three debt collecting agents have been mandated to facilitate the collection of outstanding tax debt from taxpayers on behalf of SARS. The appointed agents at the time of publication of this article are:
- CCS Credit Solutions
- NDS Credit Management
- Lekgotla Trifecta Capital Consortium
Andre Dames, Partner at Middel & Partners cautions business owners: “Be aware and cautious. Rather contact your tax adviser or auditor to consult about any outstanding monies owed to SARS before responding to any request for payment received via sms, e-mail or telephone.”
SARS has encouraged individuals to report any debt collectors other than the 3 mentioned above or self-proclaimed SARS officials immediately and reminds business owners that all outstanding tax, VAT and duties must only be deposited directly into SARS bank accounts. As from 1 April 2016 they also do not accept manual payments at SARS branches anymore and payments can only be made at approved banks, via e-filing and via electronic funds transfer (EFT).
Follow these Middel & Partners tax scam tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Never respond to e-mails from SARS that requests your personal details.
- Never use a link in an e-mail to access your e-Filing profile.
- Scam artists use almost identical e-mail addresses in an attempt to look like financial institutions such as SARS or banks, email@example.com - How long did it take you to spot this fake?
- Never share or write down your e-Filing account login details.
- Always log off once you’ve completed your online e-Filing submission.
- Avoid using computers in public areas such as internet cafes.
To discuss your tax needs or for assistance with any related tax matters contact Middel & Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 012 340 0700.
Middel & Partners is registered with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) as B-BBEE Approved Registered Auditors.