SARS eFiling fraud warning

Tax expert Nicolas Botha warned that cybercrime is rising, and South Africans’ eFiling accounts are not immune to this threat.

Botha is the manager of Tax Consulting SA’s Tax Team Compliance & Processing and said that cybercrime is advancing at an alarming rate. 

“As technology evolves, so do the tactics of cybercriminals. Unfortunately, your South African Revenue Service (SARS) eFiling account is not immune to these threats,” he warned.

Botha pointed to recent SARS reports highlighting a disturbing rise in fraud attempts and breaches of eFiling profiles. 

He warned that these breaches can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and a lengthy process of restoring your good standing with the authorities. 

“These threats have evolved from simple click-bait scams to sophisticated and planned fraudulent activities, often targeting vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, disabled and expatriates,” he said.

“These cleverly orchestrated profile hacks can wreak havoc on a taxpayer’s financial affairs.” 

Some of these tactics involve hacking an individual’s eFiling profile, where fraudsters target taxpayers with disabled children to generate a fraudulent refund. 

This requires detailed knowledge of the taxpayer and careful planning, including updating banking account details with SARS and fraudulently submitting a tax return.

Therefore, Botha warned that extra vigilance may be needed and SARS’s warnings must be taken seriously. 

“It is crucial to actively protect your registered details and monitor activities on your SARS profile,” he said. 

“Regularly reviewing your SARS account activity, updating security measures, and staying informed of potential threats are essential steps to safeguard your personal and financial information.”

Most South African taxpayers and tax professionals are committed to compliance, aiming to pay the minimum tax required while handling their tax obligations responsibly. 

Unfortunately, this respect for the law and dedication to compliance are precisely what tax scammers exploit.

While he acknowledged that manually checking every item as a practitioner or taxpayer may be impossible, this is where advancements in “good” technology may be the answer to combat the issue. 

“As a firm, we use the TaxCheck system to automatically obtain crucial information about our clients’ registered details and compliance status,” he said. 

“This ensures no discrepancies and prevents fraudulent activity through advanced monitoring capabilities. These systems are highly recommended for both individuals and practitioners seeking to ensure compliance and active monitoring.”

Botha said protecting your SARS eFiling account requires diligence and the right tools. 

“By staying informed, regularly monitoring your account, and using advanced systems like TaxCheck, you can safeguard your tax affairs from cybercriminals,” he said. 

“Don’t wait for a breach to take action – stay proactive and secure your tax matters.”

SARS’ warning

In June this year, SARS warned of a new scam targeting taxpayers using eFiling. It explained that fraudsters are posing as SARS and use an ‘outstanding tax payment’ as a hook.

The scammers will contact taxpayers and threaten that if they don’t make a payment to the attached account number, they won’t be able to file their returns for the 2024 tax season.

“SARS never provides bank account numbers. If you need to make a payment, only use the Official SARS payment channels,” SARS clarified.

Van Huyssteens Commercial Attorneys tax director Jean-Louis Nel told 702’s Bruce Whitfield that in the last six months, more than ten different phishing emails have been published on the SARS website’s dedicated link.

“It appears that it’s becoming a more common problem in relation to VAT refunds in particular, where tax practitioners have in excess of ten company profiles where this actually emanates,” he said.

“If I’m not mistaken, the Commissioner published the stats where he mentioned that R110 billion of fraudulent bank refunds were stopped in the past twelve months.”

“It’s a significant amount of money if one considers what the budget deficit was in the previous financial year.”


Top JSE indices