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UNDER ATTACK

A total of 11,000 attempts at identity fraud in 2014-2015 were part of a wider picture of 91,000 “fraud incidents” recorded on the ATO’s systems.

Sydney nurse, Paul Francisco was expecting a tax return to hit his bank account, so when it didn’t arrive, he contacted the ATO.

They told him they had already paid it.

What they didn’t know was that criminals had changed his banking details held with the ATO, so they had transferred his money to a false bank account operated by the fraudsters.

The ATO investigated and put extra security measures on his file, including an instruction to pay any refund in the following year by cheque.

That was last year. You won’t believe what happened this year…

When Paul’s accountant tried to lodge this year’s tax, he was told that a return had already been filed in Paul’s name and a refund paid to yet another bank account.

Then, adding insult to injury, the ATO sent Paul a notice saying he had an overdue tax debt.

Shockingly, this is not an isolated incident. The ATO say they have delayed and investigated twenty-six thousand tax refunds so far this year and cancelled about a thousand of them, totaling around $9 million. Last year they blocked eighteen thousand fraudulent claims totaling $17 million.

In some cases, criminals have hacked into employers’ payroll systems, accessed workers’ information and used the data to lodge fake tax returns in their names. In other cases MyGov profiles have been accessed… or even created from scratch.

What should you do?

If you are expecting a tax return, check what bank account the ATO has recorded for you. You can do this via your tax agent, or online if you lodged it electronically yourself. If anything appears to have been tampered with, call 13 28 61 immediately (8:00am – 6:00pm AEST, Monday to Friday) and let them know.

If you have a MyGov account, log on and check your details. If you think someone has accessed your myGov account unlawfully, call 13 23 07 immediately (7:00am – 10:00pm, Monday to Friday and 10:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday in local Australian time zones), select Option 1, then let them know your concerns.

Even if all is well, consider changing your password.

In any case, make sure you know how to avoid identity theft, have a look at Identity theft – don’t become the next victim.

What are your thoughts?

Have you been a victim of one of these scams? Is there anything else you’d like to know about protecting yourself from fraud?

Join the conversation — leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thoughts are.

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