The ATO is warning Australian taxpayers to be careful with their personal information.
The crime of identity theft can create a number of issues for a victim, such as a poor credit rating, money stolen and bank accounts emptied, and serious crimes committed under their name, such as fraud.
The ATO offers five strategies for protecting yourself from identity crimes:
Understand what you need to protect
There are a number of personal details scammers can use to carry out an identity crime that the average person may not consider. Details such as your full name, date of birth, driver’s licence,
passport details, etc., can all be used to steal your identity.
Keep personal information safe and secure
Once personal information is captured by someone deceptive, in many cases it is impossible to get back. For instance, once someone knows your tax file number or address, you can’t take this knowledge back from them. If financial details are shared or stored online, they are there permanently. Carefully consider the safest place to store details like passwords and bank details to avoid fraud.
Professional identity thieves are just that, professionals. They are extremely savvy and can discover a great deal about a person from piecing together who they are based on what they share online, particularly on social media platforms. Something as innocent as sharing a photo of yourself in front of your house can provide a thief with enough information to find out where you live.
Being vigilant when divulging personal information
Treat requests for personal information with caution. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a call from either a company, organisation or government agency, call their phone number directly to check if it is really them calling.
Use legitimate channels to make payments
Many scammers will request payment methods such as pre-paid gift cards or for money to be sent to bank accounts. To avoid falling into these scams, don’t send money or provide personal, credit or banking details to anyone unless you made the call and are sure that the phone number is genuine.