Published on Aug 2, 2016

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Scamwatch is warning Australian consumers and small businesses to take extra care when seeking government grants and to be suspicious of unsolicited offers of money in the form of government grants.  Scam Alert!

According to the Australian Crime Commission (ACCC), the Australian Business Financing Centre (ABFC) and its sales representatives claim to offer access to an online database of Australian government grants and loans available to small businesses.

Small business owners paid fees ranging from $497 to $701 to access the database, only to find there were no suitable grants or they were ineligible for any grants listed.

Similar websites targeting small businesses have also come to the attention of regulatory authorities in New Zealand and Canada.

Tax scams

The ACCC has also warned scammers are taking advantage of tax time to defraud people out of more than $1 million.

This year more than 300 people have been targeted by scammers claiming to represent the Australian Tax Office.  They are defrauding people by making false claims about tax debts either over the phone or by email.

“Tax scammers are particularly aggressive so many people feel pressured to pay quickly without questioning them. The most threatening scammers even say that police are on their way to arrest you but can be stopped if you pay immediately,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard warned.

The ATO advises that from time to time it will send taxpayers emails, SMS messages or official social media updates about new services. However, the ATO will never request personal or financial information by SMS or email.  Contact the ATO on 1800 008 540 if you are concerned you have been targeted by a tax scammer.

Local grants

Closer to home Cessnock City Council offers a range of grants each year.  Tools and tips for making a great grant application can be found at Council’s website.

Details about government grants can be obtained for free at www.business.gov.au and other websites ending with .gov.au.

For more information about the grants scam, read the ACCC’s Public Warning notice.