Email Scammers Out in Force

Tax Time - A Grade Tax Penrith

Australians are being warned to steer clear of sophisticated tax time phishing emails that purport to come from the ATO but are really designed to steal people's banking emails and passwords.

The MessageLabs Intelligence unit, part of computer security company Symantec, has observed an increase in the fraudulent emails as the end of the financial year approached. This year, the scams are more sophisticated than ever before.

"Scammers have mastered the art of making these emails look legitimate, often including the ATO logo and links to the ATO website," Symantec said.

"These phishing emails generally offer online tax returns, luring internet users with subject lines and key words such as 'benefits of e-tax', 'eligibility requirements' and 'click here to get tax refund'."

The scammers try to entice users into giving away personal details including banking information and passwords by saying that these details are required in order to get the refund.

In another variation of the attack, emails contain links to phishing web pages designed to look like a legitimate online tax return. The attackers can then use the information gathered by these scams to access the victims' accounts and steal money. It could also be used for identity theft.

"Impersonating tax and government agencies is becoming an ever more popular angle for phishers," Symantec said.

"Symantec has observed that the instances of ATO phishing attacks have been on the increase since January 2010."

The ATO said Australians should be alert to potential email or phone scams or suspicious door knockers. Suspicious activity can be reported to the tax office on 13 28 61.

"While we may occasionally send you emails or SMS text messages promoting new products or services we will never ask for your personal information such as credit card details, TFN, your date of birth or passwords," the ATO said.

Symantec said people could avoid being targeted by these attacks by keeping their browser, security and spam filter software up-to-date, never clicking on links contained in unsolicited emails and by being suspicious of any requests to enter account names, passwords and other confidential information

For all your accounting and taxation services, tax returns, bookkeeping and tax solutions contact (02) 4731-1405 A Grade Tax Accountants Penrith.

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