Scam activity tends to build up around the end of the financial year, as people sometimes hurriedly and anxiously, gather documentation and prepare their tax returns. The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online website is full of useful information and tips about staying safe online, and not just for this time of year.
The website says that scammers try to take advantage of the movement of all that sensitive financial and personal information in order to commit fraud and identity theft.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has already seen a five-fold increase in scams in the first five months of this year and they expect that number to increase.
How to Protect Yourself
- Know that scammers exist. They spread a wide net and anyone can be a target
- Keep your personal details secure and do not reveal personal information such as your date of birth, unless you are sure who you are communicating with
- Do not share any financial information or transfer money to anyone unless you have verified the authenticity of the person making the request
- If something doesn’t look or feel right, immediately hang up the phone or delete the email or text.
- If you are given contact numbers / emails, do not use them as these may be fake. Instead, use a phonebook or the internet to find a contact for that organisation.. This includes communications from official departments such as the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink, Telstra or the Police. Quite simply, hang up on the caller or delete the email. Remenber, you can always find the correct number for the relevant organisation and ring them to confirm whether they tried to get in touch with you.
- Ensure that your devices and applications are password protected
- Always be wary of offers and deals that seem too good to be true, that sound threatening or request personal information such as your tax file number or details of your credit card.
Later this year in October, the Attorney-General’s Department is holding Stay Smart Online activities. COTA will be in touch soon with more information. For more information visit: staysmartonline.gov.au