It’s that time of year when we’re lodging our tax returns but cyber criminals are also out in force. Leading cyber safety brand Norton has some expert advice to help users stay safe and protect their information.
“A key way to protect yourself is to understand how the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) works and to be aware of the different tax scams,” says Mark Gorrie, APAC Director at NortonLifeLock.
“Be cautious of ATO impersonation scams. These have become rampant in the past couple of years.”
Around 30 per cent of Australians lodge their own tax return personally.
Here are Mark Gorrie’s tips to help spot a scam and protect yourself during tax season:
– If you’re not sure about the validity of any communication from the ATO, contact them directly to verify the source.
– Know the status of your tax affairs and your accounts.
– When filing your taxes online, use a secure Wi-Fi connection or if using public Wi-Fi, use Secure VPN.
– Use comprehensive security software on your devices and backup your data regularly.
– Look for signs that an email could be fraudulent, check for unusual spelling or grammar, or if there’s an urgency to press on a link or open an attachment. These are tactics used by fraudsters to encourage you to download malware which could infect your device and compromise your personal information.
Norton says there are three common scams aimed at last minute tax filers – compromised tax file numbers, ATO impersonation and phishing scams.
COMPROMISED TAX FILE NUMBER (TFN)
If your tax file number gets into the wrong hands it can be misused to lodge tax returns and other tax forms and receive refunds in your name.
Apart from filing their tax early, Norton says you can strengthen protection by linking your MyGov account to the ATO and using security questions to verify your identity.
Savvy cyber criminals look for opportunities around filing season and a common scam is impersonating the ATO.
Keep in mind, the ATO will never send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone.
These are usually robocalls from a fake ATO representative trying to obtain bank account details and other identifying information.
Norton says there are several different types of tax related phishing attacks which hope to gain your trust.
They do this by impersonating a person’s employer or even a government representative offering tax forms and seeking personal information.
If anyone is asked for sensitive data, Norton recommends going directly to your employer and the ATO to verify the identity of the person asking for your details.
It’s a good idea to keep track of your accounts and consulting the ATO website which offers plenty of information about the latest scammer tactics.
Users can also enrol to receive monthly credit reports to spot potential criminal activity.
You can visit Norton site for information on how to help keep your devices and data safe.