Tax Time Scams – it’s that time of year again

Australians watch out! The number of scams targeting us during tax time is off the charts. The tactics used by tax scammers may change from year to year, but their goal is the same. To get money and personal info from their victims.

Criminals pretend to be from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) or an accountant/tax agent or associated with MyGov. They use scams such as fake tax refunds, threats of arrest (this happened to me!) loss of benefits or deportation, all while we are preparing our tax returns. They use convincing language to try and trick us. For me, luckily, I called my accountant straight away to ask, and she told me, “there are scammers on the loose, ignore their threats.”

For example, in 2018 alone, there were 114,000 reports and a whopping $2.8 million in reported losses. 21,000 people were also duped into sharing their personal information including their tax file number, and MyGov login details, all during tax time.

This tax time STOP! and think before sharing your valuable personal information– no matter how persuasive, the person or message may sound! Here are our 10 Tips to stay safe online this tax time.

Always log into myGov to check your tax messages

      • Impersonating the ATO or myGov is a common trick used by scammers – threatening people to pay fake tax debts or hand over personal details to receive a ‘refund’.
      • Always manually type https://my.gov.au/ into your internet browser to log into your official myGov account to check your tax, lodge your return, and verify if you owe a debt or are due a refund. Do not click any links in emails or text messages, as these could be malicious links.
      • Check your tax affairs at any time by calling the ATO on 13 28 61 or contacting your tax agent.

Always check your tax through ATO online services via myGov – and manually type the URL into your browser https://my.gov.au

https://my.gov.au

Scammers often impersonate the @atogovau in emails, text messages, phone calls and over messaging services or social media. The best way to avoid falling victim is to ignore these approaches and only log into your myGov account to check if you owe a debt or are due a refund.

For more advice head to https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19

Turn on the security code in your myGov account

    • Impersonating the ATO or myGov is a common trick used by scammers – threatening people to pay fake tax debts or hand over personal details to receive a ‘refund’.
    • Always manually type https://my.gov.au/ into your internet browser to log into your official myGov account to check your tax, lodge your return, and verify if you owe a debt or are due a refund. Do not click any links in emails or text messages, as these could be malicious links.
    • Check your tax affairs at any time by calling the ATO on 13 28 61 or contacting your tax agent.

Always check your tax through ATO online services via myGov – and manually type the URL into your browser https://my.gov.au

https://my.gov.au

Scammers often impersonate the @atogovau in emails, text messages, phone calls and over messaging services or social media. The best way to avoid falling victim is to ignore these approaches and only log into your myGov account to check if you owe a debt or are due a refund.

For more advice head to https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19

Keep your personal information private

  • The ATO will never ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund.
  • Don’t give out your Tax File Number (TFN), date of birth or bank details unless you’ve checked the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and they genuinely require these details.

Think before you click

  • The ATO will never send you an email or text message with a hyperlink directing you to a log-on page for their online services.
  • You can always verify the identity of the person you’re dealing with by checking the  phone book or doing an online search. Don’t ever use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent to you.

Scammers can be really convincing. If you receive a message claiming to be from the @atogovau, think twice before downloading attachments or clicking links in emails or text messages, even if they appear to come from someone you know.

More tips to avoid suspicious messages https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19

Never pay tax by iTunes cards, gift cards or Bitcoin

  • The ATO will never ask you to pay your tax debt via iTunes, Google Play or other pre-paid cards or with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or into non-ATO bank account,
  • Visit www.ato.gov.au/howtopay for advice on correct payment options for paying tax debts.

Stay alert for scammers this #TaxTime! Scammers often impersonate the @atogovau and demand payment for fake tax debts.

Remember, the ATO will never ask you to pay your tax debt with pre-paid cards or with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. For electronic payment of tax debts, the ATO accepts payment into an account held by the Reserve Bank of Australia only.

For more information about ATO payment options, visit http://www.ato.gov.au/General/Paying-the-ATO/How-to-pay/

More tips to protect yourself online a tax time: https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19

Be smart with social media

  • Be careful about what personal information you share online and across social media. This information can be used by scammers when they contact you to make their approach seem more believable. They can also piece together personal details you reveal online to try and crack your passwords on important accounts, like your myGov account.
  • Change the privacy settings on your social media accounts so only friends can see your details.
  • Don’t share your Tax File Number (TFN) on social media.

Stay safe when using Wi-Fi to avoid a tax time scam

  • Be careful about what you do online when you’re connected to a hotspot or free public Wi-Fi. While it’s OK to check the news or the weather when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, don’t make financial transactions or do your tax return These networks are not secure. Can cybercriminals can intercept your information.
  • When doing tax time transactions from home or your business, ensure that your private Wi-Fi network is secure with a strong password.

Keep your devices up-to-date

  • When you’re alerted to a security update for your operating system or one of your apps— install it as soon as possible. These update are often about fixing weaknesses that cybercriminals use to gain access to your device.
  • Run regular anti-virus scans to help you detect and remove malware (viruses) from your device.
  • Remove any apps you don’t use any more to ensure your personal info isn’t being accessed by companies you don’t deal with anymore.

Keep your business info safe at tax time

  • Cybercriminals can use information such as your AUSkey to commit tax fraud in your name. Beware of anyone asking you to ‘confirm’ your details. Don’t share your details before verifying the person.
  • Business owners and tax professionals who have experienced a data breach or a breach of client records (e.g. loss of or unauthorised access of sensitive personal details) should report it to the ATO so protective measures can be placed on client accounts.

Cybercriminals may use business information such as your AUSkey to commit tax fraud in your name.

Beware of anyone asking you to ‘confirm’ your business details. And don’t share your details unless you’ve checked the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are.

Learn how to keep your business safe from scammers this #TaxTime https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19

Help others be cyber safe!

  • Share ATO and Stay Smart Online scam warnings with family, friends, customers and colleagues to help keep them safe online.
  • Report suspicious emails claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to [email protected] and then delete the email. Do not click on any links, open attachments or download files.
  • You can also report cyber security incidents to ReportCyber

Turn on the security code in your myGov account

    • Impersonating the ATO or myGov is a common trick used by scammers – threatening people to pay fake tax debts or hand over personal details to receive a ‘refund’.
    • Always manually type https://my.gov.au/ into your internet browser to log into your official myGov account to check your tax, lodge your return, and verify if you owe a debt or are due a refund. Do not click any links in emails or text messages, as these could be malicious links.
    • Check your tax affairs at any time by calling the ATO on 13 28 61 or contacting your tax agent.

Always check your tax through ATO online services via myGov – and manually type the URL into your browser https://my.gov.au

https://my.gov.au

Scammers often impersonate the @atogovau in emails, text messages, phone calls and over messaging services or social media. The best way to avoid falling victim is to ignore these approaches and only log into your myGov account to check if you owe a debt or are due a refund.

For more advice head to https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/taxtime19