With tax lodgement time approaching, Norton, a leading consumer cyber safety brand from NortonLifeLock, has released expert advice to help last-minute tax filers identify common scams to help protect their information.

“A key way to protect yourself is to understand how the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) works and to be aware of the different tax scams. Be cautious of ATO impersonation scams as they have become rampant in the past couple of years,” NortonLifeLock Asia Pacific director, Mark Gorrie said.

With 30% of Australians personally lodging their own tax return, Gorrie provided tips for people to help them spot a scam and stay protected during tax season:

  • If you’re not sure about the validity of any communication from the ATO, contact them directly to verify the source
  • Know the status of your tax affairs and your accounts
  • When filing your taxes online, use a secure Wi-Fi connection or if using public Wi-Fi, use Secure VPN
  • Use comprehensive security software on your devices and backup your data regularly
  • Look for signs that an email could be fraudulent, check for unusual spelling or grammar, or if there’s an urgency to press on a link or open an attachment

Norton has identified three common scams and ways to combat them.

  1. Scammers can claim taxes with compromised Tax File Number (TFN)

A TFN and other personal information can be misused to lodge tax returns and other tax forms to receive refunds. Aside from filing early, Norton recommends strengthening identity protection by using security questions and linking your MyGov account to the ATO – a unique set of security questions that provides the ATO with additional information to verify identity.

2. ATO impersonation schemes

The ATO will not send unsolicited pre-recorded message. With this scam, criminals call taxpayers or use robocalls posing as ATO representatives to persuade individuals to provide their bank account numbers or other identifying information.

3. Phishing scams

Tax-related phishing attacks prey on the trust of taxpayers by pretending to be the person’s employer or a government representative seeking tax forms and personal information. Verify the identity of the requestor and go directly to your employer and the ATO.