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Younger Australians being targeted by cyber criminals in tax time scams

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EOFY (End of the Financial Year) is quickly approaching and cyber criminals are targeting young Australians in scams and playing on their eagerness for a tax refund after the economic pressures of the coronavirus crisis.

This is a dangerous time of year with consumers sharing sensitive private and financial information.

As a result, the frequency of attack increases significantly as cyber criminals try to exploit unknowing Australians.

According to a report from the ACCC, the group most at risk is Gen Z – those under 25 – who lost $5m in reported scams last year and $4.2 in 2020 so far.

Similar results were seen in a study by NortonLifeLock in 2019 with Australians doing their tax return online.

This research found that 39 per cent of Gen Z were the victims of cyber crime in the past, compared to 22 per cent of baby boomers.

“Younger Australians may think they are “too smart to get caught” by scams due to how tech savvy they are but as 2019 proved, they are now failing victim more and more,” says NortonLifeLock cyber security expert Mark Gorrie.

“There is a job to do around education in mobile security and how to protect your primary devices.

“It’s important to use a secure VPN on your mobile devices as well as tradition devices like laptops and desktops.”

And year on year, the scams are getting even more sophisticated.

“In the first half of the year, we saw scammers frequently using the COVID pandemic as a way to confuse and frighten people into handing over money,” Gorrie says.

“Superannuation scams also saw a spike in frequency with Aussies looking to take advantage to the early release of funds.

“Around this time of year, traditionally, we see a spike in ATO and government impersonation scams with Australians keen to make the most of their tax refund.

“The important thing to remember is if you receive an email or text from any organization asking for personal information that this is a scam and should be reported.

“Personal information will never be requested from a legitimate organisation in an original message.”

And it’s not a case of your internet security software making customers immune to these scams

“Internet safety is a combination of being vigilant, using proper precautions such security software and common sense – if a deal is too good to be true, it likely is.”

NortonLifeLock cyber security expert Mark Gorrie has these tips to help people spot a scam and stay safe online:

– Be cautious of emails, SMS’s and phone calls claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

– If you’re not sure about the validity of any communication from the ATO, call them directly.

– Use security software on your computer and backup regularly.

– Be sure your computer is fully patched and up-to-date.

– Look for misleading signals in an email and never open attachments if you are unsure.

– Know the status of your tax affairs and your accounts.

– If you’re filing your taxes online, use a secure Wi-Fi connection or a VPN.

– Secure print materials.