This week we have received emails, purportedly from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), asking recipients to confirm their identity. The initial reaction of many of us was that based on the amount of money the ATO have taken over the years they should well and truly know who we are!
The emails look official, contain the ATO logo and ask recipients to reply to the email address email@example.com. They also ask for a digital photo of the recipient’s passport, national identity card, and either a copy of a recent bank statement or utility bill confirming their address.
Clearly this is a scam and the email should be ignored or deleted.
Identity theft is a growing issue in Australia and around the world. An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2011 indicated that 1.2 million people in Australia or 1 in 25 of the population were victims of some form of identity fraud. A more recent survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2013 found that more than 85% of cases of identity theft were a result of some form of cyber crime. In 18.3% of cases the thieves used email to obtain personal details.
There is a simple message here. Be very careful with your personal details. No government department will legitimately make a request for information of the type requested in these emails.