8 July 2014

With tax season beginning, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning Australians to be wary of scams.

In particular, the ATO is warning about phone scams where a scammer attempts to coax and intimidate you into paying a fake tax debt or disclosing your personal details.

Scammers impersonating representatives from the ATO or other authorities can be extremely pushy, threatening you with arrest or penalties if you do not comply.

In some cases, the scammers may have already obtained (stolen) some personal or financial information about you, enabling them to appear extremely convincing. They may even quote your tax file number, address or other identity details.

The ABC recently published an article highlighting how these personal details are used by scammers to pressure and threaten their victims.

Phishing emails

The ATO also confirms an increase in the number of phishing scams leading up to tax time, significantly more than the same time last year.

If you receive an email purporting to be from the ATO asking you to click a link to ‘update your personal details’ or ‘confirm your account information’ or any similar request which involves you responding with personal or financial information, do not click on anything. This is a phishing scam and you should delete the message immediately.

The ATO states that it does from time to time send taxpayers emails, SMS messages and official social media updates, but they never request personal or financial information.

Staying safe

The ATO provides a clear course of action so you can be sure about who you are talking to:

‘If people receive a call from the ATO and are concerned about providing their personal information over the phone, they should ask for the caller’s name and phone them back through the ATO’s switchboard on 13 28 69. If people think they may have fallen victim to a phone scam, contact the ATO on 1800 060 062 (8.00am–6.00pm, Monday to Friday).’

The ATO has also published a video to help explain how to protect your personal information.

As with any scam or online threat, it’s important that your software and systems are up to date, and that you have automatic updates enabled.

You should be using up to date security software from a reputable vendor.

More information

The ATO’s warning about phone scams targeting tax payers.

The ATO also offers more information via its online security page.

Stay Smart Online advice about setting and using security software.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

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Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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