New research from Norton LifeLock has revealed some worrying signs relating to tax-time scams online which is a warning to everyone as we approach the end of financial year.
While 58% of Aussies being more wary of cybercrime at tax time sounds bad, it’s actually a good thing because a heightened awareness will hopefully lead us to be a bit more careful about our online activity
However, Generation Z is a real worry – claiming that cybercrime affects other people but not them! Yet at the same time they’re out there engaging in risky online behaviours like sharing tax returns on public WiFi.
Sadly, despite a very secure system, 20% of folks surveyed didn’t think it was safe to complete their tax return online.
So here are Norton LifeLock’s ANZ Security Expert Mark Gorrie’s top tax time tips to protect Australians and businesses during EOFY 2019:
So, with his Top Tips to staying safe online – in particular around tax time – here’s what Mark Gorrie from Norton LifeLock advises:
Be cautious of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) impersonation scams
The ATO may use letters, email, phone calls, or SMS to contact you, but will never ask for: your Tax File Number or bank details via email or SMS; and will never contact you using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to ask for your personal information; nor email you from an unofficial email address.
If you’re not sure about the validity of any communication from the ATO, call them directly
Take down their information, hang up, and call the ATO’s office using a number from the official website or a previous letter you have received from the ATO to validate its identity and its request. You can also report suspected scam emails by forwarding them to [email protected]
Use comprehensive security software on your computer and backup regularly
Norton LifeLock research found that 47% of Australian workers claim to not use a comprehensive security solution on their personal mobile, laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Using robust security software, such as Norton Security Premium, to protect your home network and personal devices is the first line of defense against cybercriminals.
Look for misleading signals in an email and never open attachments if you are unsure
Key tell-tale signs that an email may be illegitimate include: incorrect logos within the email; the communication does not address you as the recipient by name; it is not sent from a legitimate vendor email address; is unexpected; the message contains poor grammar; and/or, the email asks you to click a link that appears to lead to a government website but when hovering over the link it does not lead to an official web address.
Know the status of your tax affairs and your accounts
Get to know your finances to ensure you can identify any unexpected changes in your account as a result of cybercrime quickly. If you know you don’t have debt with the tax office, then an email or phone call that states otherwise cannot be real.
If you’re filing your taxes online, use a secure Wi-Fi connection or a VPN
66% of Australian workers claim they do not use a VPN for their personal mobile, laptop, tablet or desktop computer, yet eight per cent of Australian workers have sent personal financial info/documents via public Wi-Fi.
If that’s you, one of the best ways you can protect yourself is to make sure your internet connection is secure and not a publicly available network.
If you are not sure about the security of your internet connection use a VPN. Products such as Norton Secure VPN can help protect your personal information by encrypting all the data you send and receive online.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.