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ATO issues email scam alert

Tax professionals are being warned of a potential email scam targeting their clients, as the ATO makes note of the increase in fraud activity in recent months.

ATO issues email scam alert
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The ATO has issued a public warning of an email scam, which features the tax office’s letterhead and uses an email address similar to those used in official ATO correspondence.

In an example email provided by the ATO, scammers are asking people to complete an online ‘tax form’ through a link that contains malware.

The tax office has advised on several telltale signs of an email scam including that the email doesn’t have a @ato.gov.au sender email address, even though the sender may look similar. Other signs include that the client is not specifically named and the email contains poor grammar.

Professionals are often certain they wouldn’t fall victim to a dodgy email, but similar scams involving fake emails from ASIC almost fooled some SMSF and advice professionals last year.

This latest scam alert follows email scams from March to September 2017, and a phone scam alert in December last year.

Cyber frauds and scams have been in the spotlight recently, with the Institute of Public Accountants urging tax professionals to tighten up their processes with the impending Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme set to kick off next month.

The scheme will commence on 22 February and will require agencies, organisations and certain other entities to provide notice to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and affected individuals of a data breach.

IPA executive general manager Vicki Stylianou said the NDB scheme would have “potentially serious” consequences for tax professionals who chose to ignore it, including monetary fines and loss of trust with clients.

The scheme will cover accountants and tax professionals who deal with tax file numbers, as well as entities that have an annual turnover of more than $3 million.

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