Picture: Independent Media
Johannesburg - The SA Revenue Service (Sars) says there’s been a drastic decrease in the number of complaints received from taxpayers about e-mail scams and phishing attacks.

The service received just 49 e-mails during the first seven days of Filing Season 2017 compared with a whopping 776 complaints during the same period last year.

Each year, hundreds of South Africans fall victims to “spoof” e-mails that are made to look as if they come from Sars.

These fraudulent e-mails are aimed at persuading South Africans to divulge personal information, such as bank account details.

“In addition to the decrease in the number of complaints, eight phishing websites where Sars was used as a lure to get banking details of members of the public were closed down by our anti-phishing team during this time,” said Sandile Memela, a spokesperson for the revenue service.

The number of complaints dropped significantly compared to the last two years.

In 2015, Sars received 335 e-mail complaints and last year the number almost doubled, however, this year it is at a low.

Mamela said this was due to Sars tightening its risk measures as well as vigorous awareness campaigns.

“We have followed various protocols to ensure legitimate claims and payouts, and no loss to the fiscus or to the taxpayer.

“There is also a dedicated section on our website to alert the public on the latest scams detected.”

Sars says examples of the scams include e-mails from [email protected] or [email protected], which state that taxpayers are eligible for a refund.

The e-mails are believed to contain links to false forms and false websites made to look like the real thing, but with the objective of fooling people into entering personal information such as bank account details which the criminals then extract and use fraudulently.

Taxpayers who are concerned about e-mails or SMSs claiming to be from Sars should visit www.sars.gov.za, e-mail [email protected], call the fraud and anti-corruption hotline on 0800002870, or call the Sars contact centre on 0800007277.