Warning as Inland Revenue text scam tells recipients they're entitled to a 'tax refund'

A text message purporting to be from Inland Revenue quotes a tax refund amount in NZD, telling recipients to 'follow' a link to claim it.
A text message purporting to be from Inland Revenue quotes a tax refund amount in NZD, telling recipients to 'follow' a link to claim it. Photo credit: Supplied/Getty Images.

Warnings are being issued over a text scam pretending to be from Inland Revenue and informing recipients they're entitled to a tax refund.

While tax scams typically spike around March to April in line with the end and beginning of the new tax year, this year scammers are doing the rounds as late as October and November in an attempt to catch unsuspecting taxpayers out.

On Tuesday, a text message was supplied to Newshub showing an example of such a scam.

"Claim your tax refund of $825.09NZD, follow the link below," the text message reads.

The link on the text message contains the IRD website URL, and ends with '.com/claim.php'. It states that the message was "sent by Inland Revenue".

Responding to Newshub, an Inland Revenue spokesperson said it was aware of text and email scams impersonating IRD.

Within its website scams section, Inland Revenue reminds taxpayers they're never asked to email or text bank account details - these are always supplied through myIR, requiring a user ID and password.

Inland Revenue says it also doesn't use 'NZD' after the dollar figure, or terms such as 'dear citizen', 'fiscal activity', 'NZ Govt Tax Refund' or 'IRD Customer Portal'.

A scam text or email may include a website or email address that looks almost right, like 'ird.co.nz' or 'ird.gov.nz'.

"If you get an email that you think might be a scam, use your mouse to hover over a link without clicking," Inland Revenue's website says.

"This will let you see if the website address they are sending you to is accurate and relevant to the email you received."

It follows a scam alert from police in October warning Kiwis of a phone scam where the scammer claims to be from Inland Revenue and attempts to get credit card information.

The phone number used by the scammers shows a New Zealand number, but police said it was likely the scammer was based offshore.

Police urge people to have conversations with vulnerable or elderly family members to ensure they're aware of common tactics and don't become victims.

"Please remember that government agencies will never contact you out of the blue and ask for your password, credit card or bank details," police say.

Although a text message can be ignored and deleted, for those who are unsure whether a phone call is a scam, Netsafe suggests asking the caller for their name and number and contacting Inland Revenue to check if it's legitimate.

Although tax refund opportunity scams usually spike between March and April and May and July, Netsafe told Newshub "there's been an increase in the last week".  And compared to 2020, Netsafe reports show a 126 percent increase in the weekly average for these types of scams. 

More information about tax scams is available on the Inland Revenue and Netsafe websites.  Anyone who believes they're a victim of a scam is advised to report it to their bank, then to their local police, and/or Netsafe.