Top Tips To Avoid Online Fraud This Tax Time
Every year around this time, the possibility of being a victim of online fraud increases. There are a lot of things you can do to keep yourself safe when you’re online, but here are some of the best strategies to help you avoid getting scammed while doing your taxes online. You may have peace of mind knowing that your information will be kept secure and that your taxes will be submitted without any problems if you are aware of the various cons that are out there and if you take a few basic safety measures.
When tax season arrives, you might start looking for ways to reduce the amount of money you owe in taxes. Even though identity theft and financial fraud committed online are all too widespread, there are measures you may do to safeguard yourself. If you want to prevent becoming a victim of online fraud during tax season, follow these five tips. Be wary of cons, guard the confidentiality of your personal information, and make use of robust passwords. If you follow these easy guidelines, you will be able to protect the confidentiality of your financial information.
Be extremely watchful for fraudulent activity when filing your taxes online. By adhering to these best practices, you can keep your private information and financial details safe. Protect yourself from harm while using the internet by taking some basic precautions, such as using strong passwords and avoiding falling for phishing scams. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s always best to err on the side of caution, so this tax season, make sure you don’t let yourself become a victim of fraud committed online.
A Guide to Help You Avoid Being a Victim of Online Fraud During Tax Season
It is time to start thinking about where you will be lodging your return now that the end of the fiscal year is getting closer. It is currently simpler than it has ever been before to file your taxes due to the widespread usage of cloud accounting solutions and online processing.
Do not respond if you are contacted through email or text message by someone posing as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and requesting for personal or financial information.
Take a moment to gather your thoughts before you click anything or provide any information. Avoid doing things like downloading attachments or clicking on links in dubious text messages or unwanted emails, for instance.
If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the ATO and indicating that you are entitled to a return, threatening you with instant incarceration, or suggesting that you must pay money to receive a tax refund, hang up the phone.
Hang up immediately and call the organization back using a number that is publicly published if you get a call from someone asking for personal or banking information. For instance, the number for NAB can be found on the back of NAB cards as well as on our website.
It is essential to discuss these cons with your immediate and extended family. In the event that they get an unexpected request for information from a third party, you should advise them to “ask out loud” for a second opinion from a friend or member of their family.
Despite the fact that this is excellent news for individuals and small businesses, tax time is also a dangerous period because fraudsters try to defraud both small enterprises and customers who do not take adequate precautions.
Scammers send suspicious communications purporting to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or Centrelink during tax season. These communications can take the form of emails, faxes, SMS messages, or phone calls, and their goal is to trick Australians into handing over money or personal information.
Recent research conducted by Norton has shown that more than 200,000 small businesses in Australia were hit by cyber attacks in 2017. The research also indicated that cybercrime cost these SMBs an average of $10,299 over the course of the past year.
Mark Gorrie, an expert in security for ANZ and Norton, has suggested that individuals and organizations need to take action in order to prevent getting caught out.
At tax time, these are some of Gorrie’s best suggestions for avoiding cyber fraud.
Be wary of calls, emails, and text messages purporting to come from the “Australian Taxation Office” (ATO)
You may be contacted by the ATO for a variety of reasons, including to remind you of a payment that is overdue. The ATO may contact you using letters, emails, phone calls, or SMS. Nevertheless, the ATO will under no circumstances:
- You should rather be contacted through email or text message and asked for your Tax File Number or bank details.
- You will be contacted through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in order to get your personal information.
- Send you an email from an unauthorized email account, or provide anybody else access to your personal information without first obtaining your permission.
The ATO may call you, but they will never threaten you with jail time or ask for the tax debt to be placed onto a prepaid card. If you owe money to the government, the ATO may call you.
If you have any suspicions, you should contact the ATO directly
If you get a call from someone who says they are calling from the ATO, take down their information and then call the ATO office to verify that they are who they say they are and that their request is legitimate. You can also report suspicious emails to the company in question by forwarding the email to them.
Protect your computer with anti-virus software and make backups on a regular basis.
The use of software to safeguard the networks in both your home and your place of business is the first line of defence against attempts by criminals to steal or compromise the information that identifies you.
Make Sure That Your Computer Has All of the Latest Updates And Patches Installed.
Make sure that your operating system and any third-party programs have all of their fixes applied. This will ensure that your computer is not vulnerable to being exploited in a harmful spam campaign that makes use of software vulnerabilities that are already known to exist.
When receiving suspicious emails, you should avoid opening any attachments.
Incorrect logos within the email; the communication does not address you as the recipient by name; it is not sent from a legitimate @ato.gov.au sender; it is unexpected; the message contains poor grammar; and/or the email asks you to click a link that appears to lead to a government website but does not lead to an ato.gov.au address when hovering over the link. These are key telltale signs that an email may not be legitimate.
Be aware of the current state of your financial and tax situations.
If you know you don’t have debt with the tax office, then an email or phone call that states otherwise cannot be real. Keep an eye on your credit report for any new accounts that weren’t opened by you, as well as your credit cards for any charges that weren’t authorized. If you have engaged in fraudulent conduct, this may be an indication that you are at a higher risk of continuing fraud, which may include the theft of your tax refunds.
Utilize A VPN Or A Secure Wi-Fi Connection
When it comes time to file their taxes, many customers choose an online filing service. If this describes you, one of the most effective measures you can do to defend yourself is to ensure that the network via which you access the internet is private and not open to the public. Utilize a virtual private network (VPN) if you are unsure about the safety of the internet connection you are using. It is an easy technique to protect your data while it is being transmitted, and it acts nearly exactly like a secret code that you and your VPN provider are the only ones who know.
- When you are connected to a hotspot or free public Wi-Fi, you should exercise extreme caution regarding the activities that you engage in online. When you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network, it is acceptable to check the news or the weather; nevertheless, you should avoid conducting any financial activities, such as filling out your tax return. Because these networks are not secure, it will be much simpler for hackers to obtain the information they seek from you.
- Make sure that your private Wi-Fi network is protected with a robust password before beginning any tax-related transactions from the comfort of your own home or from the office of your business.
Always ensure that you check your tax messages by logging into your myGov account
- Scammers frequently employ the tactic of impersonating trusted companies such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or myGov. This is done, in particular, to try and intimidate people into paying phony tax debts or handing over personal details in order to receive a refund.’Always check your taxes, file your returns, and verify if you owe money or are eligible for a refund by signing into your official myGov account. This will help you avoid being a victim of tax fraud. You should accomplish this by going to your internet browser and manually putting in https://my.gov.au/ rather than clicking on any links contained in emails or text messages because those links could potentially lead to dangerous websites.
In addition, at any time you can verify the status of your tax matters by phoning the ATO at the toll-free number 13 28 61 or by getting in touch with your tax agent.
Make Sure Your myGov Account Has A Security Code By Turning It On
- Having a strong password for your myGov account is a good beginning step, but adding a security code to your login procedure offers an additional layer of safety. This makes it more difficult for a hacker to proceed even if they crack your password and gain access to your account.
- When you check in to myGov, you will be asked to provide a security code, which is a number that will be sent to your mobile phone. This code is a quick and secure way to access ATO online services.
- To configure your security code, you will need to log in to your myGov account and activate the feature inside the ‘Account settings section.
Maintain the confidentiality of your personal information
- In order to get a tax refund from the ATO, you will never be required to disclose any personally identifying information in any way.
- You shouldn’t give out your Tax File Number (TFN), date of birth, or bank details unless you’ve verified that the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and that they truly require these details. If you’re unsure whether the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are, you shouldn’t give out your TFN.
Consider Your Actions Before You Click
- You will never get an email or text message from the ATO that has a hyperlink that takes you to a page where you may log in to use their online services.
- You should always make sure the person you’re working with is who they say they are by consulting an objective source, such as the yellow pages or an internet search engine. Never use the caller’s contact information or the message they sent to you in any way, shape, or form.
Never, under any circumstances, pay taxes using iTunes cards, gift cards, or bitcoin
- You will never be asked by the ATO to deposit your tax debt into a bank account that is not associated with the ATO, pay for it with iTunes, Google Play, or any other pre-paid card, or pay it with a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
- Paying back taxes the right way requires that you get guidance from the Australian Taxation Office regarding your available payment choices.
Be smart with social media
- We are so accustomed to exposing our personal information online that we don’t really give much thought to the fact that other people could potentially view it. Be mindful of what you post on the internet and in social media, as con artists might exploit the information you publish to make their attempts to con you look more legitimate when they get in touch with you. They are also able to piece together personal facts that you provide online in order to attempt to crack your passwords on essential sites, such as your myGov account.
- Make sure that only friends can see the facts you provide on social media by adjusting the privacy settings on your accounts.
- Your Tax File Number (TFN) should not be shared on any social media platforms.
Always make sure the latest software is installed on your devices.
- If you are notified that a security update is available for your operating system or one of your apps, you should not dismiss the message; rather, you should install the update as soon as you can. These updates do not only consist of the addition of new functionality. In addition to this, they aim to patch vulnerabilities that fraudsters use in order to obtain access to your device.
- In addition to this, you should scan your device with your anti-virus software on a regular basis so that it can assist you in locating and removing any malicious software (viruses).
- It is a good idea to uninstall any applications that you are no longer using to protect the privacy of your sensitive data from being viewed by businesses that you are no longer doing business with.
Ensure the Security of Your Company’s Information During Tax Time
- Cybercriminals are able to perpetrate tax fraud in your name using information such as your AUSkey if they have access to it. Be wary of anyone who asks you to “confirm” your details, and under no circumstances should you give over your information until you have verified that the person you are interacting with is who they claim to be.
- If you, as the owner of a business or as a tax professional, have become aware of a data breach or a breach of client records (for example, the loss of or unauthorized access to sensitive personal details), you are required to notify the ATO in order to have protective measures put into place for client accounts.
Contribute to the Online Safety of Others!
- Warnings against internet scams issued by the ATO and ACSC should be spread amongst family, friends, customers, and coworkers to help keep these groups secure.
- Sending an email’s entirety to the address [email protected] or [email protected], and then deleting the original email, is the proper way to report fraudulent emails that purport to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Avoid opening any attachments, clicking on any links, or downloading any files.
- ReportCyber is another option for communicating concerns regarding online safety and security.
How to Avoid Being a Victim of Phishing During Tax Season
Scammers use sophisticated tactics to mislead people into giving over their personal and financial information during tax season. These methods are used to acquire myGov login details so that the scammers can access tax returns before the victims even realize there is a problem. This year, the risk is more than usual because of the misunderstanding around the global pandemic, and con artists are taking advantage of this by latching onto the government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy and early superannuation access scheme.
Swindlers are always coming up with new methods to defraud members of the community, and they frequently prey on those who are the most defenceless. During this time, Australians need to be extremely alert to protect their online activity. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions and government tools available to assist consumers in protecting themselves from these dangers.
If something appears to be too wonderful to be true, then there’s a good chance that it isn’t. Phishing scams are effective because they lure users into a false sense of security by lulling them into a false sense of confidence through the use of enticing offers, attention-grabbing claims, or urgent requests for action.
The phrases “Password Check Required Immediately” and “Change of Password Required Immediately” are among the top three general email subject lines that have been demonstrated to be utilized in successful phishing attacks, according to a recent study. When it comes to paying taxes, these tactics get even more devious.
The majority of phishing assaults are conducted for financial gain, particularly during tax season. The primary objective is to either obtain funds directly from the victim or to collect sufficient sensitive data, such as login credentials or tax file numbers, in order to commit identity theft and file a fake claim.
Worse yet, victims of tax identity theft are frequently unaware of the fraud until they go to file their own tax return and receive a response informing them that someone else has already filed a tax form using the same social security number and received their refund. This is the point at which the victim realizes that their identity has been stolen.
Taxpayers need to familiarize themselves with suspicious email formats and remove messages that have an unusual email sender, inappropriate use of ATO words, or odd grammar. Users should exercise caution when clicking on hyperlinks or opening attachments, particularly in situations where the legitimacy of an email is in question. In addition to this, they should always ensure that the versions of their operating system and programs are kept up to date, as well as the versions of their antivirus and security software.
The use of a reliable email service that flags problematic communications is one more easy approach to keeping track of these issues. For instance, Gmail will display a warning at the top of an email if the message or sender appears to be untrustworthy. However, it is essential to keep in mind that these services are not entirely infallible, despite the fact that they provide more security than doing nothing at all. Since there is a constant game of cat and mouse between the filters and the attackers, it is crucial to keep this in mind.
The Australian Taxation Office encourages all residents of Australia to strengthen the safety of their myGov accounts by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). This allows users to choose to be texted a verification code in the event that they forget their password. Additionally, in order for businesses to access the ATO Business Portal and submit their activity statements and JobKeeper information, they now need to use the myGovID mobile authenticator.
This two-factor authentication technique provides an additional layer of protection against unauthorized users gaining access to an account by adding a second factor of verification.
The most reliable type of two-factor authentication (also known as security keys) is external hardware authentication devices. These devices operate as a physical key to safeguard online accounts. While a user’s password is something that the user knows, the security key is something that the user possesses. Without the security key, the user is unable to access their account, which prevents hackers from accessing the account.
The Australia Cyber Security Centre and the Australian Signals Directorate have recommended that organizations in Australia employ eight basic attack mitigation methods as a baseline in order to stay up with the ever-evolving threats. The possible consequences of breaches in cyber security will be reduced to a minimum with the help of these eight preventative measures.
ATO Provides Resources
People should best protect their information by submitting their taxes as quickly as possible. This shortens the window of time during which hackers have the opportunity to file a fraudulent return in its place.
Anyone who has received a notification from the ATO that they have filed a duplicate tax return must respond right away. In addition, it is essential to get in touch with the ATO if there is even the remotest possibility that another person has filed a fraudulent return using their personal information. If they discover that this is accurate, they need to contact the authorities as well as the Scamwatch unit of the ACCC as soon as possible.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) offers guidance and information on how to identify a phishing scam and how to validate the authenticity of a message purporting to come from the ATO. It is important to note that the ATO will never send a person an SMS or email including a hyperlink with the instruction to click on it.
Individuals ultimately have the ability to actively combat phishing schemes during tax season, whether they occur by phone or email. A secure and fruitful conclusion to what has been a trying fiscal year can be ensured by gaining the ability to identify fraudulent emails and text messages, putting personal solutions into action, and making use of tools made available by the government.