FTO advisor cautions taxpayers of scammers

LAHORE   -   Taxpayers should not fall prey to scammers, fake websites, non-existent charities, fictitious emails and dummy tax notices and never respond to such fraudulent tactics.

Advisor to Minister of State and Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Waqar Chaudhry cautioned this while addressing an awareness session organised on the direction of FTO Dr Asif Mahmood Jah here Sunday. The FTO advisor said that it is his duty to bring into their knowledge pressing matter that requires immediate attention- the escalating prevalence of scams and fraudulent activities targeting taxpayers across Pakistan.

He said FTO has noticed a disturbing surge in deceptive practices including fraudulent emails, fabricated notices, sham websites, and the creation of non-existent charities, all designed to exploit unsuspecting taxpayers. These malicious modus operandi are adept at mimicking official communication channels, posing a significant threat. He said tax payers receive calls or messages promising hefty tax refunds in exchange for a fee by impersonating tax authorities. He said in 2023 Pakistan’s computer emergency response team reported a 300 percent increase in tax related phishing incidents and scammers pose as charity which is non-existent.

He said fraudsters steal taxpayer’s personal information to file fake tax returns, claiming refunds and leaving the victim with a tax liability. FBR has reported over 1,500 cases of identity theft last year. Dr Waqar said these tactics are to create panic and pressurising victims for making hasty payments. He said that crux of the matter is that tax scams pose a considerable challenge in Pakistan but through the partnership of vigilant taxpayers and the FTO, a significant progress can be made in protecting taxpayers from falling prey to fraudulent tactics. He said by staying informed, vigilant and proactive taxpayers can ensure their financial security and maintain the integrity of the tax system.

He stressed the need for implementation of a comprehensive public advisory campaign by chambers. This campaign should underscore the imperative for taxpayers to exercise heightened caution and diligence when encountering any communication purportedly from tax authorities. Underlining importance of independently verifying the legitimacy of such communications, cross-referencing official contact details, and refraining from divulging sensitive personal or financial information without robust verification measures is crucial, he concluded.

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