11 Jun 2024


Protecting Yourself: Safeguarding Against ATO and MyGov Phishing Scams

With the tax season just around the corner, AUSCERT is urging individuals to remain vigilant. This period is a prime time for cybercriminals to target unsuspecting individuals through phishing scams. These are typically circulated via various channels, including phishing emails, phone calls, text messages, and even fake websites. Malicious threat actors tend to increase their fraudulent activities utilising various phishing techniques to take advantage of the heightened financial activity during this period.

AUSCERT has observed a significant increase in phishing scams impersonating MyGov and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) during previous tax seasons. From July to October in 2022, AUSCERT received reports of around 1100 tax-related phishing emails and scams, a number that surged to approximately 2500 in 2023.

These phishing emails typically impersonate official entities and may contain convincing logos and language to deceive recipients and urge users to click on a link, scan a QR code or download an attachment. The emails also claim that urgent action is required to avoid account suspension, try to trick users about a pending tax refund, highlight issues with a tax return or demand immediate action to avoid penalties. However, clicking on these links can potentially lead to malicious websites that steal Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or sensitive data like user credentials or credit card details. Additionally, clicking on the links may install malware on the user’s device, creating a backdoor for cybercriminals to monitor activities, track user behaviour, and steal login information.

To protect yourself from ATO and MyGov related phishing scams during the upcoming tax season, it is crucial to take precautions like:

  • Verify the source: Do not respond to unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls claiming to be from the ATO or MyGov. If it is an email, double-check the email address and sender information to confirm authenticity. Remember, the ATO or MyGov will never ask for sensitive information via email or SMS. Before providing any personal information, verify the legitimacy of the request by contacting the ATO or tax professionals through their official channels.
  • Be wary of suspicious calls: If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the ATO and demanding payment to receive a tax refund, it is advisable to end the call immediately. Keep in mind that the ATO will not threaten you with immediate arrest or use abusive language.
  • Exercise caution with links and attachments: Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails or text messages.
  • Be cautious of urgent requests: Be wary of emails, text messages and phone calls pressuring you to act quickly or provide personal information. Take the time to verify the legitimacy of the communication.
  • Protect personal information: Avoid sharing personal or financial details in response to emails, phone calls or text messages. Always be careful when providing information online.
  • Report suspicious activity: If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the ATO or MyGov, report it to the appropriate authorities, such as the ATO’s scam reporting email address, the ACSC, or IDCARE.
  • Keep software up to date: Ensure that your devices have the latest security updates and antivirus software to protect against malware and phishing attempts.

By staying informed and vigilant, and following best practices for online security, individuals can reduce the risk of falling victim to ATO and MyGov related phishing scams during tax season. If you believe that your identity has been compromised or you have fallen a victim to a tax related scam, contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160.


Written by  Senior Information Security Analyst Vishaka