Important news from the ATO.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging all Australians to keep their personal information secure and to report any suspicious activity immediately this tax time.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson warns that identifying information like tax file numbers, bank account numbers or your date of birth are the keys to your identity, and can be used by scammers to break into your life if they are compromised.
“We cannot stress this enough – your personal information must be treated like your bank PIN. If someone knew your PIN, they would have access to your hard-earned income, and it’s the same with your personal information and tax return,” Ms Anderson said.
“The ATO works really hard to maintain the highest levels of security, but if someone gets your personal information, they can use it to impersonate you and engage in fraudulent activity.”
“More than one thousand taxpayers reported their personal information had been compromised in June, up by 26 per cent from May, so we know it is a real problem at this time of year.”
Ms Anderson said all reports of identity theft are taken seriously, with the ATO working directly with taxpayers when they suspect their identities have been stolen, misused or compromised.
“We are committed to supporting victims of tax scams and tax crimes. If you think your tax file number has been stolen or compromised, you should contact our Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033 right away,” Ms Anderson said.
“By alerting us we can immediately take steps to secure your identity and limit the damage done by scammers. Your information also helps us understand the constantly evolving scams and therefore better protect the community from falling victim to them.
Ms Anderson said the best defence against scammers was keeping your information safe and knowing what to do if you are targeted.
“You can’t be too careful when it comes to your personal details. If you are contacted by anyone purporting to be from the ATO and you have any doubts about whether it is legitimate, immediately hang up and get in touch with the ATO to verify the call.”
Ms Anderson said the ATO makes thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers each week, but there are key differences between a call from a scammer and a legitimate call from the ATO.
“Tell-tale signs include a caller threatening you with arrest or jail, aggressive or rude behaviour, or asking you to pay money into strange bank accounts or settle tax debts with things like gift cards or iTunes cards. We would never do this,” Ms Anderson said.
“If something doesn’t sound right, you can always check your myGov account, ask your tax agent, or call us directly on 1800 008 540 to see if the contact is legitimate. Be especially wary if you’re asked to make a payment, make sure you only use one of the methods listed on our website.”
For more information on scams, visit ato.gov.au/scams
For more information identity theft visit ato.gov.au/identitytheft
To see a list of things the ATO may contact you about, visit ato.gov.au and search for ‘Current ATO SMS and email activities’.
How to spot a scammer
Everyone can play their part in stopping scammers. Your reports help protect the Australian community.
The ATO will not:
- be abusive or offensive to you
- threaten you with immediate arrest
- ask you to transfer money into an account with a BSB that is not 092009 or 093003
- request payment via unusual methods such as iTunes gift cards or other prepaid cards
- request personal security information such as your TFN or your bank details via email or SMS or social media sites
- ask you for money up front in order to receive a refund or other payment
- direct you to download files from the internet.
The ATO will:
- provide you with a range of options for paying debts, which are all set out on our website at ato.gov.au/howtopay
- contact you by phone
- if you are in doubt about the authenticity of a call claiming to be from the ATO, you can call us on 1800 008 540 to verify
- you will generally be aware of any debt before it is due for payment, but you can check through your myGov account, your tax agent or by calling the ATO
- send emails and SMS asking to you to take specific action such as:
- provide additional information required to process a BAS or tax return lodged
- provide additional information required regarding an application that’s been made
- verify changes to an account
- send general notifications and reminders via SMS or email
- send promotional and informational SMS and emails.
The original post can be found here.