• How to protect yourself

    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
    • TFN
    • drivers 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 (or copies of this 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.

    Complete our online security questionnaire

    As a taxpayer you can play a big part in protecting your 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 questionnaire 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 questionnaire is voluntary and anonymous. None of your personal information is recorded by us

    Next steps:

    See also:

    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 and 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, or 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.

    See also:

    Be cautious 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 your TFN 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 – photographs, birth date, address.

    Change any passwords you have shared

    Passwords should be unique to you. The best way to protect yourself is to never share them. If you have shared your passwords, be sure to change them regularly.

    Avoid writing down your passwords and leaving them in your purse, wallet or in a file on your computer.

    See also:

    Protect your computer and phone

    Computer

    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
    • scan your computer’s files
    • 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

    Phone

    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 official stores or 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.

    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.

    See also:

    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.

    A victim of identity theft may find they no longer have a good credit rating that took years to build up.

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

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

    Find out about:

    Last modified: 10 Jan 2017QC 50498