SARS warns of scams during festive season

Bogus Third Party Appointment (AA88) notices to companies requesting millions

Pretoria, 20 December 2016 – Taxpayers, including corporate organisations, are warned to be on the lookout for scams and fraudulent activities during the festive period.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has noted several scams, including the issuing of fake Third Party Appointment (AA88) notices to companies, the unauthorised use of its logo as well as individuals posing as SARS staff. 
In most cases, these scams require the individual and corporate taxpayer to make a payment, and may also request personal details including banking details. 
Scams targeting companies with fake Third Party Appointment (AA88) notices
A scam targeting companies, some listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has been detected.  Banks are receiving Third Party Appointment (AA88) Notices to deduct money from the company’s account and pay it into a third party account.  Some of these notices involve millions of rands.
Taxpayers must note that SARS will never request that payments are made into third party accounts. All legitimate SARS notices require payment to be made to SARS through a dedicated SARS payment channel. SARS bank details can be verified via its contact centre or at a SARS branch.
The Tax Administration Act empowers SARS to appoint a third party to withhold and pay over to SARS any amounts due by a taxpayer. The third party may be an employer or any entity who owes a taxpayer money or who controls a taxpayer’s money. Third parties include employers, banks and investment managers, amongst others.
It is important to note that while a legitimate AA88 notice explains the third party’s obligation to make a deduction or payment, it also explains how the third party can engage with SARS if unable to fulfil this obligation. 
Bogus SARS staff
SARS noted reports that individuals posing as SARS staff are using SARS logos, branded apparel and bogus offices to defraud members of the public. The scam involves notifying people that they have been successfully employed by SARS, and were now required to buy uniforms and identity cards which are SARS-branded and appear authentic. 
How to avoid falling victim to a scam
Members of the public are warned to keep the following tips in mind:
1. Verify any correspondence or personal identification cards by contacting the SARS contact centre or your nearest branch. 
2. SARS officials are legally required to present a SARS identity card when interacting with taxpayers. Specific information on these cards can first be verified with the SARS contact centre or at a SARS branch. 
3. Do not make any immediate commitments or provide any personal information including banking details, until the verification with SARS has been done.
4. The legitimacy of payment channels can be verified via the SARS contact centre or on the SARS website.
5. The location and listing of all SARS offices and branches can be found on the SARS website.
6. Ensure that you deal with registered tax practitioners only. Visit the SARS website to verify the registration of a tax practitioner.
How SARS communicates with taxpayers and members of the public
1. SARS will never request your banking details in any communication that you receive via post, email, or SMS. 
2. For the purpose of telephonic engagement and authentication when you contact the SARS contact centre, SARS will verify your personal details and identity.
3. Taxpayers are reminded not to open or respond to emails from unknown sources.  Be aware of emails that request your personal, tax, banking and eFiling details (login credentials, passwords, pins, credit/debit card information, etc.)
4. SARS will never send you hyperlinks to other websites, even those of banks.
5. SARS does not endorse commercial ventures, programmes, schemes and offers.  The unauthorised use of the SARS logo is an illegal offence.
Taxpayers who are concerned about emails or SMS messages claiming to be from SARS should:
Additional tips to safe-guard against scams can be obtained on the SARS website at Additional tips for scam-proofing.