Sophisticated online scams on the rise

Online scams continue to rise at an alarming rate according to findings by the ATO.

According to the Tax Office, email scams reported to the taxation office have almost tripled when compared to the same quarter of last year.

Second Commissioner Geoff Lepper said the ATO have identified an increase in the number of sophisticated email and phone scams that have been specially designed to trick people into giving away their personal details such as tax file numbers, banking and credit card details.

"Scammers can use your personal details to steal your identity and commit fraud such as taking out a bank loan or lodging fake tax returns in your name," Mr Leeper said.

In Q1 of 2012 there were 3,558 reports of email scams lodged to the ATO. By the end of Q1in 2013, that number had increased significantly to 10,972 reports.

"I urge people to be vigilant... and wary of unsolicited emails or phone calls claiming to be from the ATO. We will never send an email requesting you to confirm, update or disclose confidential details like your name, date of birth, address, passwords or credit card details," Mr Leeper added.

Feel like you've been scammed?

Cybercrimes are becoming more sophisticated every day, so it's essential you remain cautious about the information you chose to share online.

Remember that only certain people and organisations can ask for your tax file number. These are:

  • the Tax Office, when discussing your tax records
  • your employer, after you start work
  • your bank, or other financial institutions
  • Centrelink
  • your superannuation fund.

If you feel your details have been compromised it's paramount that you first notify your financial institution to limit any damage. Identity theft is a serious criminal breach, so all crimes should also be reported to your local state police immediately.

If you'd like to learn more about fraud and how you can prevent it, try some of these links:

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