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SMEs warned against tax return cyber crime
With upwards of 2.5 million individuals using the ATO’s e-Tax electronic tax return service, cyber criminals have a huge and potentially receptive audience for their activities, advises AVG (AU/NZ) Security Advisor Michael McKinnon
“Internet crime and taxes are now two of life’s certainties,” McKinnon explains. “Cyber criminals are starting to release this year’s crop of end of financial year scams to trick taxpayers into revealing highly valuable personal and financial information.”
McKinnon says new scams and forms of phishing frauds that ask for your credit card details include:
- Offers of government grants needing to make payments prior to the end of the financial year;
- Prompts for baby bonus applications;
- Assistance to find lost superannuation funds; and
- Notification that your company tax rate has changed.
“When you consider all the information included in your return – your tax file number, details of investments, retirement accounts, employment, the property you own – in the hands of cyber criminals, your identity and more could be at risk,” McKinnon warns. “And if you see an offer that looks too good to be true, avoid it. Any offer of an online refund will absolutely be a scam because that’s not how the ATO or any other Australian government agency operates.”
AVG (AU/NZ) top tips to help you safely file your tax return
- Use the end of financial year to review your personal or business online security systems to ensure your protection is fully and automatically up to date – on all computers, phones, other mobile technologies, plus USB and other memory devices from which you will gather, store and send your financial information.
- Do your homework by reviewing the ATO and SCAMWatch online security pages.
- In communicating with your tax advisor, consider creating a password protected Zip file of your financial data.
- Always open your e-Tax filing directly from the ATO’s website; never click through to the site from an email invitation. The filing of tax returns directly via the ATO’s e-Tax service is secure.
- Always use a trusted WiFi or ethernet connection from your home or office to file your tax return – never use a public WiFi without a firewall in place and Internet security installed.
- Be cautious of anything that you haven’t directly requested and only respond to those communications you’ve initiated.
- Delete all related emails from your server once you’ve filed your return.
- While the ATO uses emails and SMS for service alerts, it will never request the confirmation, update or disclosure of confidential personal details. If you receive suspect communication from ‘the ATO’ or any other ‘government department’, do not click on any links in an email or answer phone questions. Report it immediately to the ATO.
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