Tax time is the prime season for scammers, with calls, emails and SMSs already circulating for 2020.
Common scams include asking you to verify your account, such as your MyGov account, login to your internet banking to view a refund, or claim an unexpected “lost” tax refund.
So far this year, according to ScamWatch, Australians have lost over $634 million in scams, with phone and email scams making up over 65% of scams that resulted in loss of funds.
But it’s not just tax scams. Scams can come in many forms all year round – and this year scammers are also taking advantage of COVID-19 to try and coax financial information from you, impersonating government departments to offer subsidies or special payments, superannuation funds, or banks requesting that you update your personal information.
It can be tricky – texts and emails are cleverly designed to look legitimate, and callers are well-trained at impersonating credible businesses to trick you into giving up personal information that can lead to financial loss.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Each year, fraudsters get more sophisticated, producing convincing emails, SMSs, letters and phone scripts to encourage you to give up your details and your hard-earned cash.
These tips may sound like nothing new, but they’re key to protecting yourself. Here’s how to spot a scam, and what to do if you receive a suspicious call, text or email.
You can take extra steps to protect your personal information, even when you haven’t received a scam call or email. For instance, locking down your privacy settings on your social media can help from releasing personal information to people you don’t know – you’d be surprised at just how much information about your private life is available on your Facebook page!
Set a strong password. Avoid using your birthdate or your dog’s name – particularly if, from above, this information is available on your social media.
If you’re out and about, be cautious when using public WIFI and avoid doing your banking or completing your tax return from an unsecured public wifi connection. The risk of your information being intercepted is much greater on a public network, so save this for when you’re in a more secure network, such as your private home WIFI.
Finally, don’t forget to make sure your devices are updated, and regularly run anti-virus checks on computers and laptops to remove any nasty viruses or malware.
If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, particularly if you’ve lost money or have revealed personal information, there are some steps you can take to limit any further losses or damage:
If you would like more information about current scams, or how scammers convince you to give up your personal information, visit ScamWatch.gov.au.
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