How you can stay safe online at tax time...
The end of the financial year can be a stressful time, and each year there are also scammers waiting for you to slip up and fall into their scams.
Most people expect to hear from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) at this time of year, but you should always consider whether you're being contacted by someone legitimate or by a criminal who is out to get their hands on your personal details and hard-earned money.
These are 6 ways to stay safe online during tax time this year:
1. Use MyGov for all communication about your taxes
MyGov is where most communication from the ATO will take place. The website has a high level of security, including the option to turn on a personal security code.
2. Never click on email or text links
If you receive a text or email from the ATO, don't click on any links. You should manually enter the URL into your browser instead. It is also important to remember that the ATO will never send you a link to a login page – if you do receive a link of this nature, it is time to stop and think before you act.
3. Keep your personal details private
Don’t give out your TFN, date of birth or bank account details unless you know that you are providing them to an authorised representative of the ATO, your tax agent or bank. The ATO will never ask for your personal identifying information for you to receive a tax refund.
4. Tax debt can be only be paid with money
It can't be paid with iTunes, gift cards or Bitcoin. If a tax debt is owed by your or your business, the ATO will work with you to provide payment options.
5. Be smart about your tech
When you’re connected to public wi-fi, it’s okay to read the news or scroll through your socials but you shouldn’t conduct any financial transactions. These public networks are not secure so it’s easier for criminals to steal information. You should also keep your phone and computer secure and up-to-date and use reputable anti-virus software to run virus scans.
6. Don’t be afraid – You’re not going to prison...
…at least not on the back of a telephone call! If you have a tax debt, you will know about it and the ATO will have written to you about it on several occasions before they begin enforcement proceedings. Under no circumstances will the ATO pressure you into making payment or dispatch the police to arrest you based on one phone call requesting tax debt payment.
If you are unsure whether an ATO communication is real, don’t reply, or hang up. Call the ATO on 1800 008 540 or visit www.ato.gov.au/scams to check.