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  • How to protect yourself

    We all need to protect our personal information from identity thieves. These criminals can start using your identity with information such as your name, date of birth, address, myGov details or tax file number.

    Data breach

    If you are the victim of a data breach and your personal identifiable information has been accessed, there are steps you can take to minimise the damage.

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    Know what to protect

    Your personal information is the key to your identity. It includes your:

    • full name
    • date of birth
    • current address
    • bank account numbers
    • credit card details
    • tax file number (TFN)
    • myGov and ATO online login details
    • driver's licence details
    • passport details
    • passwords.


    Watch our Protect your personal information video to see what you should protect and how. 


    Be aware of sharing your information

    You should only share your personal information with:

    • people you trust
    • organisations with a legitimate need for it.

    You should treat requests for personal information with caution. Before providing your personal information:

    • ask the person who calls, emails, messages, or comes to your door for some identity credentials
    • verify the person’s credentials by calling their organisation or place of work.

    Be careful what you discuss in public. Identity thieves can listen to your phone calls and your conversations with your friends.

    Store personal information in a secure place

    Avoid carrying your birth certificate or passport in a wallet or handbag unless you need them. Don't store personal information, such as TFNs, passwords, or personal identification numbers (PINs), in your mobile phone.

    Never leave personal papers or spare house keys in the glove box of your car. Use a locked mailbox or a post office box if you receive large volumes of mail.

    Shred or destroy documents that contain any personal information. Make sure electronic documents containing personal information are secure. Protect these files with passwords and encryption, or use a trusted data vault website.

    Protect yourself from scams

    Scams can trick you into providing either money or personal information.

    Scammers can be believable and will sometimes quote personal information to sound authentic.

    If someone asks for your bank or personal details, money, refunds or free gifts, be cautious. Consider the possibility that it may be a scam – even if you think you know the person well.

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    Be aware of what you share on social media

    Scammers can use information you place on social networking sites to steal your identity. You can protect yourself by:

    • not sharing personal information, such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details on social media
    • knowing who can see your information and consider setting your profile to ‘private’
    • being cautious about which friend requests you accept
    • not posting information that would make you or your family vulnerable such as photographs, birth dates or addresses.

    We are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but we will never use these social media platforms to ask you for payment or personal identifiable information.

    Complete our online security self-assessment

    As a taxpayer you can play a big part in protecting your personal information and making sure it is safe online. We encourage you to remain vigilant, take precautions, address security, and uphold your privacy by assessing your online practices at least quarterly.

    You can use our online security self-assessment to:

    • identify areas where you can improve your online practices and processes
    • understand and identify your established online security measures
    • get more information and resources to help improve your online security measures.

    The assessment is voluntary and anonymous. None of your personal information is recorded by us.

    Next step:

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    Change any passwords you have shared

    The best way to protect yourself is to never share your password. Even if you aren’t sharing your passwords you should consider updating them regularly. Avoid writing down your passwords and leaving them in your purse, wallet or in a file on your computer.

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    Protect your computer and phone


    Scammers use viruses, malware and programs to steal or access your personal information. To help protect yourself against these digital attacks, you should:

    • keep your anti-virus, malware, and spyware protection software up to date
    • ensure you have a firewall and it is up to date
    • avoid entering personal information or passwords into unsecure websites
    • avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in emails from someone you don’t know or trust
    • avoid using public computers to access your personal information.


    Stop people from accessing the information on your phone by:

    • using a password, PIN, or screen lock
    • only connecting to secure (encrypted) wireless networks from trusted sources
    • considering the installation of anti-virus software on your phone.

    Only use a registered tax agent

    Make sure that any tax agent you use is registered. You can do this by checking the Tax Practitioners BoardExternal Link website.

    Registered tax agents do not require access to your myGov and ATO online accounts to complete your tax return for you. They have their own systems to do this. You should never share your myGov login details with anyone, including your registered tax agent.

    Only a registered tax agent can charge you a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return.

    Enrol your voiceprint with the ATO app

    You can now use your voiceprint to verify your identity with us. Setting this up will help us to protect your tax account and reduce the chance of scammers accessing it. To enrol, log in to our online services for individuals via the ATO app and follow the prompts.

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    Consider checking your credit reports

    A person's credit rating is the history recorded by credit reporting agencies. These agencies keep a record of loans applied for in your name. They provide information about your credit history to credit providers and businesses.

    You can access your own credit file, although a charge may apply. Checking your credit reports regularly alert you to all credit applications made in your name.

    Note that credit reporting services are not provided by the ATO or the government.

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    Last modified: 24 Jul 2020QC 50498