With tax time now in full swing, the Australian Cyber Security Centre is warning tax practitioners and their clients to expect a surge in scammers impersonating trusted brands like myGov or the ATO.
According to the ACSC, the ATO received 6,444 reports of tax-time scams that impersonated the ATO in June 2019, with emails with links to fake myGov login pages being the biggest email scam in that month.
“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,” the ACSC said.
“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.
“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.”
Surge in myGov users
myGov scams could be exacerbated this year due to the expected 4 million taxpayers the ATO expects to sign up to myGov this tax time, adding to the current 3.7 million myGov users.
The huge influx of sign-ups comes as businesses transit over to the Single Touch Payroll regime, making end-of-year payment summaries redundant.
Instead, payment summary information will now be called an “income statement” and can only be accessed through a taxpayer’s myGov account or through their tax agent.
Accountants have been urged to be extra vigilant around their client communication list this tax time until the ATO develops its preferencing solution.
“For now, it is really important that agents become much more robust around how they use the client communication list. That is how they are going to be able to see communications, particularly things such as notice of assessment, debt notices, things related to their income,” said ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker.
“So, a warning for this year until we get a preferencing solution in place: you need to make sure you watch the client communication list, or you are likely to miss communications. We do know that only a small portion of clients who actually have myGov inboxes look at those inboxes, so the opportunity to miss something is very high.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.