Claire Nicol joined the company in 2015 having moved to Melbourne from London and is currently the Customer Development Sales Manager. Her passion for Cyber Resilience has been driven by the continual evolution of malicious actors specifically the craftiness of their campaigns to compromise users and breach organisation. She values discussing this with customers to understand and learn their perspective and experiences. During her time in Mimecast she has been fortunate to work with existing customers to enhance their resilience posture and help maximise the value of their Mimecast services.
Brace yourselves: Tax scams are coming
It’s that fun time of the year again where everyone empties out their drawers, filing cabinets and digital records to find the long-ignored documents they need to file their taxes.
I think this tax season is going to be a bit more complicated than usual, though. With many people working from home, on the government’s JobKeeper scheme or experiencing other changes to their income, there’s going to be a lot of confusion around what can be claimed and how to go about it. The perfect conditions for cybercriminals to scam some unsuspecting people out of their data and their money.
The Australian Tax Office has already alerted business owners and employees about a scam where someone pretending to represent legit organisations will ask for your bank details so they can ‘process’ your JobKeeper wage subsidy payments. Tax season has always been a popular time with cybercriminals. In the first three months of the last financial year alone, the ATO received 33,864 reports of ATO impersonation scams. Worse yet, the scammers convinced 144 people to hand over more than $500,000.
While many scammers rely on phonecalls to trick people, many of the tech-savvy ones send emails and SMS messages, asking people to hit a link and enter their information into a fake website. Some messages and calls even try to bully users into doing their bidding, threatening them with legal or police action if they don’t comply immediately.
The scary part about these methods is how extremely convincing they can be. It can be hard to tell if it’s a scam at first glance. Many scammers hide behind genuine-looking email addresses or phone numbers, and the websites they send you to look just like the real thing, even down to the graphics and branding.
Spotting a scam
There are ways to keep your guard up and lower your risk of being scammed, however. You just need to keep an eye out for a few tell-tale signs.
- Firstly, the Australian Tax Office (ATO), government agencies and any legitimate business will never threaten you with arrest, or demand immediate payment of a tax debt or fines through unusual payment methods like gift cards, Bitcoin or pre-paid credit cards.
- If you ever get a call, text or email claiming you will be arrested due to a tax debt, hang up at once or delete the message. Do not call the number provided in the phone message or email.
- Remember, the ATO would never send an email or SMS asking you to access online services via a hyperlink. If you get an email or SMS from them with a hyperlink, delete it!
- Even if you think the call or email is legitimate, hang up or delete the email. Call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check, or open a new window in your browser, type in the ATO’s web address, and log in from there.
- Never give out any sensitive personal identifying information - including names, addresses, phone numbers, login info, bank details or credit card details - unless you can independently verify the identity of the person or organisation you are providing it to.
Tax time is stressful, and even the smartest of us can make mistakes when we’re stressed. If you ever find yourself at the receiving end of a tax-related phonecall or message, take a moment to collect your thoughts before you respond, no matter how urgent the message may seem. Stay suspicious, do your due diligence before responding, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Happy tax season, everyone!