Tax professionals warned on fraud risk

The ATO has stressed the importance of vigilance in regard to identity theft and fraud and has listed a number of steps that tax professionals can take to reduce their risk exposure.

The tax office said it is important to remember that criminals can “target your business to access your and your client’s information”.

“With stolen information criminals can lodge fraudulent returns and obtain fraudulent GST refunds,” said the ATO.

One way of reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft in a practice is to check proof of identity and to question discrepancies, particularly if the business is conducted online without personal and physical contact.

The ATO also urged practices to ensure their computer security systems are up to date and protected against cyber-attack.

Discussions with staff around the importance of securing personal information and what is appropriate to discuss on social media or via email, are another important step that professionals can take to reduce the risk of fraud, according to the tax office.

“We take the security of taxpayer information and our systems very seriously,” said the ATO.

Practices that have received potentially fraudulent communications or are unsure of the legitimacy of a communication that claims to be from the tax office should inform the ATO, it said.

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