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How to protect yourself from scam and phishing emails claiming to be from ATO?

ATO stands for the Australian Taxation Office and as the tax paying time of the year is coming near, scam related activity through phone and email is rising. This is because people hurry towards the end of the tax-paying time and pay less attention to details and fall victim to the scammers. Scammers collect sensitive personal and financial information from people by impersonating as ATO. Then they use that information to gain unauthorised access to bank account and misuse it. However, with some careful observation and inspection, this type of disaster can be averted.

General precautionary measures –

• Set strong and secure passwords
• Use spam filters on email accounts
• Make sure to have the latest security update on your devices
• Notice the email and website address carefully for all incoming emails and websites
• Do not download attachments that look suspicious and never download any content sent by
strangers
• Do not click on suspicious URL
• Protect your wireless network with the latest security patches
• Maintain carefulness with Social Media presence
• Keep close track of bank account and transactions
• Make sure to have the latest security update on your devices

Scenario based solutions –
If someone claiming to be from ATO calls you and says you have a refund due, or threatens you
with arrest or asks for money to receive a tax refund, end the call.

If any email or SMS claiming to be from ATO asks you for personal and financial information,
delete it immediately and do not try to reply.

If you still want to check if the call or message actually came from ATO or not, contact them
directly by dialling 1800 008 540. You can also visit their website.

Remember, ATO will never give you threats with immediate arrest, ask for money to process a
refund, ask to download files and attachments or personal information. The best action will be
to report the scam.

How to report a scam

If you’re affected or not, you should report whenever you come across a scam. Call the ATO office during
8 AM – 6 PM, Monday to Friday at 1800 008 540. This should be done as soon as possible. Remember, in
this case, you are not only helping yourself, you are helping fellow Australians too from falling into a scam.
Suspicious emails can be forwarded to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au  without making any kinds of change or adding anything.

What to do if you’ve already became scam victim

Mistakes may happen, there is nothing to feel embarrassed about it and do not feel helpless and
act fast. In this way, you can limit the damage and minimise harm.

1st step – Contact your bank or financial institution – Immediately informing your bank about the
incident will help them to lock your account and stop any transactions that have not been
authorised.

2nd step – Lock, save and recover your ID – When suspected, act quickly and inform iDcare, which
is a free government-funded service who can help in handling and recovering lost and scammed
IDs. Visit the iDcare website and contact them at earliest.

3rd step – Report the scam and inform authorities – Informing the appropriate authority about the
scam will prevent it from happening in the future and raise awareness among the people on similar
attempts in the future. It can be informed to the local police or governments dedicated scam
management called SCAMWatch.

The basic approach to avoiding scams is to trust your gut instincts, consider every unknown or
unverified source as untrusted unless proved otherwise, avoid rushing with financial processes,
and follow the basic inspection processes. In this way, you can be safe from scammers and
safeguard your finances.

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