ATO tips for protecting your identity
1 Know what to protect
Your personal information is the key to your identity. Do you know what you need to protect and how?
Personal information includes your:
- full name
- date of birth
- current address
- bank account numbers
- credit card details
- tax file number (TFN)
- drivers licence details
- passport details.
2 Should you share your information?
- You should only share your personal information with people you trust, or with organisations with a legitimate need for the information.
- Identity thieves can sometimes trick you into providing details by claiming that you have won a competition, or by claiming to represent a charity and asking for a donation.
3 Store personal information in a secure place
- Avoid carrying documents such as your birth certificate or passport in a wallet or handbag unless you need them. Don't store personal information, such as TFNs, passwords and pin numbers, in your mobile phone.
- Never leave registration papers, expired drivers licences, utility bills or spare house keys in the glove box of your car, even when it is locked. Use a locked mailbox or a post office box if you regularly receive large volumes of mail.
- Shred or destroy documents which contain any personal information.
Be careful of what you talk about in public – identity thieves can obtain a lot of information about you by listening to your mobile phone calls and your conversations with your friends.
4 Starting a new job
Only give your TFN to a new employer after you have started the job.
Look out for employment scams – these scams are only there to steal your personal and/or financial information. These advertisements can appear as emails, advertisements on noticeboards, or online. They can also be fronts for laundering money.
Warning signs that a job offer might not be genuine include:
- promising guaranteed income, with no interview required
- asking you to pay a registration or upfront fee (for 'processing')
- claiming that you can make a lot of money easily using your computer
- only needing you to transfer money for someone else
- asking you to supply any of the following information:
- home address
- bank or credit card details
- drivers licence or passport information
- non work-related information, such as your appearance or marital status
- other personal information that isn't immediately relevant to the job.
Simply because an advertisement claims to represent a company does not necessarily mean that it does – for example, established and/or large companies do not use free email addresses in their advertisements.
If you are concerned, always check, and:
- don't click on any links in the advertisement or email
- take the extra step of looking up the company’s official details on White Pages and call to ask about the job.
5 Never share your TFN on social media
- Your TFN is yours for life. Only certain people are entitled to ask for your TFN, including the ATO, other government departments, such as Centrelink, your superannuation fund, bank or financial institution.
6 Change any passwords you have shared
Passwords should be unique to you. The best way to protect yourself is to never share them. But if you have shared your passwords, be sure to change and update these regularly.
7 Protect your computer and phone
Take the time to install up-to-date security software on your computer and phone.
8 Ensure your tax agent is registered
You can check in English if your tax agent is registered on the Tax Practitioners Board website at tpb.gov.au/onlineregisterExternal Link
Remember, only a registered tax agent can charge you a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return.