Here’s how to avoid scammers this tax time.
Aussies are being warned to watch out for scams, as fraudsters try to take advantage of the busy tax season.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) received a whopping 19,843 reports of tax-related scams in the 2022-23 year alone, with impersonations of the government organisation the most common.
Norton managing director APAC Mark Gorrie said there were certain times of the year that piqued scammers’ interest, and tax time was one of them.
“With the amount of personal and financial information that is being stored and shared at this time, coupled with the stress that comes with filing tax returns, it is the perfect storm for scammers to target Australians,” Gorrie said.
“Tax time can be difficult to navigate, and it can be easy to fall into the palm of a scammer offering to ease this burden. But it is important to understand that practising online security should never be sacrificed in exchange for convenience.”
As cybercriminals continued to develop their tactics, Gorrie shared three popular tax scams to watch out for.
1. Identity theft
This is when cybercriminals access your account, impersonate you and fraudulently lodge refunds from the ATO using your stolen information.
This can be dangerous because the cybercriminal may still have your data and it could leave you vulnerable to other identity-related crimes.
To avoid this, keep your tax file number (TFN) safe and shred any documents with your personal information before throwing them away. Also make sure your accounts with sensitive information, such as myGov, are protected with strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
If you think your TFN has been compromised, immediately report it to the ATO.
2. ATO-impersonation scams
Cybercriminals are known to pose as ATO staff and contact people through SMS, email or social media. They then try to trick people into handing over their bank details, TFN or other personal information.
Norton recommended looking out for tell-tale signs of a scam, including urgent threats. If you are contacted through social media by a newly created unverified account with a small follower account, delete it.
If you receive a suspected scam email or text message, don’t click any links or provide any payments or information. The ATO may occasionally contact you via phone, email, SMS or post. If you’re not sure it is legitimate, contact the ATO directly.
3. Dodgy tax preparers
Fraudsters are also posing as tax preparers promising speedy and substantial returns. As part of the scam, fraudsters will ask for access to your myGov account and for your personal details and payment.
If someone offers to complete your tax return, make sure they are registered on the Tax Practitioners Board.
Never share your myGov password with anyone, and enable two-factor authentication to further protect you.