Why tax fraudsters are actively looking for your information
BUNDABERG taxpayers should be vigilant.
That's the warning from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) amid reports of scammers gaining access to myGov accounts in order to lodge claims for fraudulent returns.
In the 2015-16 financial year, close to 39,414 cases of suspected identity theft were reported or detected by the ATO Australia-wide.
More than 2000 of those cases involved the ATO Online channel which requires myGov access.
While Australians won't be lodging their tax returns until July 1, the ATO said it's important taxpayers made sure they were careful.
"Fraudsters steal personal identifying information in a variety of ways from sources outside of the ATO," an ATO spokesperson said.
"This information can be used to impersonate ATO clients and lodge fraudulent tax returns.
"Identity thieves often leave their victims with a bad credit rating impacting their ability to gain finance, run a business or to access government services such as healthcare."
The spokesperson said in some cases, victims may realise they'd been scammed but in others, it may not be as apparent.
"In some instances victims may detect a loss of information and advise the ATO before that information is used to commit tax refund fraud," the spokesperson said.
"In other instances potential data misuse is proactively detected by ATO lodgement analytics and clients are informed by the office."
The ATO said taxpayers should limit the number of people who have access to their personal details.
"In order to protect these details, you should only share your personal information with people you trust and organisations with a legitimate need for it," the spokesperson said.
"You should treat requests for personal information - or copies of this information - with caution.
"Before providing your personal information you should always ask the person who calls, emails, messages, or comes to your door, for some identity credentials, as well as verify the person's credentials by calling their organisation or place of work.
"Activate privacy settings on social media and limit the amount of personal information shared through these networks.
"We strongly advocate the use of two factor authentication for online services when available - this may be a pin sent to your mobile phone or a series of questions only you will know the answer to."
The ATO also encourages people to assess their online practices at least quarterly to ensure everything is in order.
Fraudsters use stolen client details to access or create a myGov account and lodge a fraudulent tax return.
This is possible when they have enough personal information to log onto the service as if they were the client.
Personal information may be stolen from an unlimited number of sources beyond the ATO including the client themselves.
The ATO said since its inception in 2013, myGov had been subjected to rigorous security testing on a regular basis.
The ATO said if anyone received an email claiming be from the ATO, they should avoid clicking links, responding or opening attachments.
The entire email can be forwarded to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au before deleting the email from your inbox and sent folder.