Don’t be the next scam vic­tim

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Money Matters/Garden Hints -

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 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 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 on 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’.

STRESS­FUL: Don’t be caught out by the empty threats of scam­mers.

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