6 August 2019

What’s happened?
Tax time is here, and we see a surge in scammers impersonating trusted brands like myGov or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to trick you into giving them money or personal details. These scams can come through as emails, text messages and fake myGov login pages. Usually these scams will say you’re entitled to a tax refund or that you need to pay a debt. They are also made to look very real through the sophisticated use of myGov and ATO logos, information and even email addresses which makes it easy for anyone to fall victim.

In June 2019, the ATO received 6,444 reports of tax-time scams that impersonated the ATO. Emails with links to fake myGov login pages were the biggest email scam in that month.

The trend in scammers demanding ‘debt’ payments via gift cards is also on the rise, with Australians aged 18-44 years making the majority of iTunes payments to scammers ($94,420 in June alone), closely followed by Google Play cards ($27,993).

These scam messages often include links that direct you to fake websites or login pages – where you enter your login details and fill out your personal details to claim a ‘refund.’ Scammers can then use this information to commit credit card or tax fraud and identity theft. By clicking on these links you also run the risk of downloading malware onto your computer.

How do I stay safe?
  • myGov will never send you a text, email or attachment with links or web addresses that ask you for your login or personal details. Do not click on links in emails or text messages claiming to be from myGov.
  • Always login to your official myGov account to check your tax, lodge your return, and check if you owe a debt or are due a refund. Do this by manually typing //my.gov.au/ into your internet browser.
  • You can also check the status of your tax affairs at any time by calling the ATO on 13 28 61 or contacting your tax agent.
  • Have a strong password on your myGov account and add a security code to your login process to provide an extra layer of protection. This makes it harder for a hacker to get any further if they crack your password.
  • Unfortunately these scams continue well beyond the 30 October deadline for tax returns, as scammers know many people are waiting for a refund or debt owed. It’s important to watch out for scams throughout the year.

More information
More tips to stay safe online this tax time.

If you’re ever unsure about the validity of a tax related message or phone call, contact the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540, or visit ato.gov.au/scams

You can also seek advice and support for scams that impersonate Department of Human Services’ (DHS) brands like myGov. If you have given personal information to a scammer pretending to be myGov, contact the DHS Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk on 1800 941 126 or email isar@humanservices.gov.au

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.
Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

You may have noticed we’ve updated our branding, to incorporate the Australian Cyber Security Centre (‘the ACSC’) logo, and complement the ACSC colours. This is to better reflect that Stay Smart Online is a part of the ACSC.

This information has been prepared by the ACSC. It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.
This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.
The Commonwealth and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.
Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.
Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.