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F-Secure Advises Australian Tax Payers To Be Vigilant When Lodging E-Tax Return

  • 19 June, 2008 16:05

<p>F-Secure Corporation, the global leader in providing security as a service through mobile operators and Internet Service Providers, warns Australian tax payers to be cautious of end of the financial year specific scam and phishing attacks. The warning comes after F-Secure’s Security Labs observed a new peak of malware this year targeting tax payers in the US at the close of the financial year.</p>
<p>According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), last year 13 per cent of all Australian tax payers (1.5 million people) lodged their tax return online, a 17 per cent increase on the previous year. This year, e-tax is likely to outnumber phone and paper lodgements for the first time with a record-breaking 1.9 million people expected to lodge their returns online. Due to the growing popularity of ATO’s online services, tax payers are more likely to become profitable prey for cyber criminals.</p>
<p>The most likely threats F-Secure expects to see are scam emails leading to phishing websites, which lure tax payers into disclosing their credit card or bank account details with the promise of an early tax refund. Bogus emails can also contain links to malicious websites installing a Trojan, a hidden file that automatically forwards confidential financial and personal information to its criminal creator without interfering in any of the normal computer programs.</p>
<p>With critical information such as your tax file number, date of birth, postal address, phone number, bank account details, and salary information disclosed, the victim is prone to identify theft – either executed online or over the phone.</p>
<p>“The ATO safeguards users by issuing a security certificate before lodging your tax refund online,” says Wing Fei Chia, security response team manager at F-Secure’s Security Labs. “However, we know from other countries such as the US, that sophisticated security measures don’t stop cyber criminals from creating new exploits.”</p>
<p>He advises: “Tax payers should be particularly cautious when an email apparently coming from ATO prompts them to update their certificate – you think you do the right thing but instead you might install a Trojan on your computer.”</p>
<p>To avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud and identify theft when doing your e-tax, F-Secure advises tax payers:</p>
<p>o Be vigilant when receiving emails or phone calls from the ATO – genuine representatives won’t ask you for your credit card details.</p>
<p>o Lodge your tax refund claim on the genuine website (www.ato.gov.au) and don’t follow any links in emails. Phishing websites normally have a numerical code or a different country domain in their URL although the click-through link looks genuine.</p>
<p>o Keep your security software up to date, and install firewall and anti-spyware software to protect your computer from Trojans.</p>
<p>o Report suspicious emails and phone calls to Scam Watch, an organisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (http://www.scamwatch.gov.au)</p>
<p>o Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it immediately to your credit union or bank.</p>
<p>The most recent scam examples from the US, listed by the ATO’s US equivalent, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service of the US States Department of the Treasury), include emails apparently coming from IRS departments and refund schemes. Some ask tax payers and businesses to follow a link to lodge their tax declaration on a fake e-tax lodgment form, others tempt users with a $80 reward for participating in an online user satisfaction survey, or trick tax payers into disclosing their credit card number with a fake "Get Your Tax Refund!" website that copies the appearance of the genuine "Where's My Refund?". For more information on the latest end of the financial year e-fraud schemes from the US, go to http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=155682,00.html.</p>
<p>About F-Secure Corporation</p>
<p>F-Secure Corporation protects consumers and businesses against computer viruses and other threats from the Internet and mobile networks. F-Secure's award-winning solutions are available as a service subscription through more than 160 Internet service providers and mobile operator partners around the world, making F-Secure the global leader in this market. The solutions are also available as licensed products through thousands of resellers globally. The company aspires to be the most reliable security provider, helping to make computer and smartphone users' connected lives safe and easy. This is substantiated by the company's independently proven ability to respond faster to new threats than its main competitors. Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Finland, F-Secure has been listed on the OMX Nordic Exchange Helsinki since 1999. The company has consistently been one of the fastest growing publicly listed companies in the industry. The latest news on real-time virus threat scenarios is available at the F-Secure Data Security Lab weblog at http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/.</p>

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