In the past financial year the Australian Tax Office has reportedly blocked more than $40 million worth of payments that would have gone to criminals who committed identity theft.
While these figures show that the ATO’s crackdown on fraudulent returns is garnering results, somewhat worryingly, officials from the ATO have little idea about how much money they might have paid out on fraudulent returns.
A recent Ninemsn freedom-of-information study found that in 2011-12 the ATO has intercepted nearly 8000 fraudulent returns. However, when asked how many fraudulent returns have been missed, the ATO admitted they don’t measure or even estimate these losses.
How do I protect myself?
In today’s increasingly web-focused society, criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. This means you shouldn’t expect or rely on the ATO to know if you’ve been the victim of fraud. Instead you should take pre-emptive steps to protect your personal information:
Never share your Tax File Number, Passwords or Login Details with anyone.
Never communicate these important details via email (At Etax.com.au you can use a secure online message system – much safer than email).
If a link in an email looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Instead, ring the company who sent it to verify it came from them.
For more details and a full discussion about Identity theft, please visit our online privacy and safety page.