Computer Crime Research Center


Internet crime & taxes now ‘certainties’

Date: June 14, 2012
By: Peter Dinham

In the shadows of the end of the financial year and the start of the tax season, security provider AVG has issued a timely warning to consumers and small businesses to be on the alert for the latest attempts by cyber criminals to gain access to lucrative identity and financial information.
According to AVG Australia and New Zealand Security Advisor, Michael McKinnon there’s a “certain inevitability” about June 30, in that it will bring “new ways to scam the unwary and new phishing frauds asking for your credit card details.”

McKinnon points to the end of the tax year bringing scams and frauds including: new ways to scam the unwary and new phishing frauds asking for your credit card details including:

Offers of government grants needing to make payments prior to the end of the financial year

Prompts for baby bonus applications

Assistance to find lost superannuation funds, and

Notification that your company tax rate has changed

Describing Internet crime and taxes as “two of life’s certainties,” McKinnon says cyber criminals are already starting to release this year’s crop of end of financial year scams to trick taxpayers into revealing highly valuable personal and financial information. “As younger members of the community join the workforce and others shift from paper-based to online tax return processes, there is always a new audience for inventive tax season scams.

And, McKinnon says that, with upwards of 2.5 million individuals using the Australian Tax Office’s e-Tax electronic tax return service, cyber criminals have a “huge, potentially receptive audience for their activities.”

“When you consider all the information included in your return - your tax file number, details of investments, retirement accounts, employment, the property you own - in the hands of cyber criminals, your identity and more could be at risk. And if you see an offer that looks too good to be true – avoid it. Any offer of an online refund will absolutely be a scam because that’s not how the ATO or any other Australian government agency operates," McKinnon says.

According to AVG, the government’s SCAMWatch website is currently alerting Australians to be aware of carbon price scams seeking your personal banking details to pay carbon tax compensation into your bank account or offering to sell you fake carbon credits. “Many of us now communicate directly with tax advisors via email so other tricks include sending phishing emails that ask you to open what appear to be legitimate attachments to fill out personal details. The simple act of clicking on that attachment could redirect you to a malicious website, or deliver to your computer an infection that could launch an attack on your accounts and extract financial details,” McKinnon warns.

AVG also has some top tips to help the safe filing of tax returns this year, including:

Use the end of financial year to review your personal or business online security systems to ensure your protection is fully and automatically up to date – on all computers, phones, other mobile technologies, plus USB and other memory devices from which you will gather, store and send your financial information

Do your homework by reviewing the ATO and SCAMWatch online security pages

In communicating with your tax advisor, consider creating a password protected Zip file of your financial data

Always open your e-Tax filing directly from the ATO’s site (; never click through to the site from an email invitation. The filing of tax returns directly via the ATO’s e-Tax service is secure

Always use a trusted WiFi or Ethernet connection from your home or office to file your tax return – never use a public WiFi without a firewall in place and Internet security installed

Be cautious of anything that you haven’t directly requested and only respond to those communications you’ve initiated

Delete all related emails from your server once you’ve filed your return

While the ATO uses emails and SMS for service alerts, it will never request the confirmation, update or disclosure of confidential personal details. If you receive suspect communication from ‘the ATO’ or any other ‘government department’, do not click on any links in an email or answer phone questions. Report it immediately to the ATO

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