Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, the distributor of the award-winning AVG anti-virus and Internet security software in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, is alerting Australians to the threat to personal identity of the latest scams being created for the tax return season starting on 1 July.

With 2.4 million individuals, or nearly 20 percent of tax payers, using the Australian Tax Office's E-tax electronic tax return service, cyber criminals have discovered a vast new audience for their activities. While the filing of tax returns directly via the E-tax service is secure, other communications are opening Australians to risk.

AVG (AU/NZ) is seeing that, just as paper tax filings can be subject to mischief, Australians are now falling prey to fraudulent e-mails, texts and phone calls purporting to be from tax officials. A new spear phishing e-mail pretending to be from the ATO and offering a quick refund is already in circulation.

"Today, electronic communication is the norm, but it's important not to let your guard down," Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ), warns. "In upcoming months, when the prospect of tax refunds is on everyone's mind, be alert to e-mails and phone calls about money owed to you by the ATO or the need to recalculate your tax."

While the ATO uses e-mails and SMS for service alerts, it will never request the confirmation, update or disclosure of confidential personal details.

Borrett said: "Think about all the information included in your tax return - your tax file number, details of investments, retirement accounts, employment, property you own, even your children's childcare. In the hands of cyber criminals, your identity and more could be at risk."

AVG (AU/NZ) offers the following tips for individuals filing their returns online. To stay protected and keep personal data exactly where it should be - between you and the ATO:

"With layers of protection, including a secure network, protected computer or mobile device and cautious use of e-mail and third-party web sites, filing online can be safe and efficient for everyone," Borrett said.

E-tax Essentials from the ATO site are at:, while information about ATO specific scams is at:

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AVG, ATO, tax, scams, cybercriminals, internet security



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