How to protect yourself
Be aware of what you share – your personal information is valuable.
On this page
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
Watch our video Protect your personal information to see what you should protect and how.
Be aware of what you share
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 contacts you for some identity credentials
- check the person’s credentials by calling their employer using a phone number you have looked up yourself.
Be careful what you discuss in public. Identity thieves can listen to your phone calls and conversations with friends.
Store personal information in a secure place
Avoid carrying your birth certificate or passport in a wallet or handbag unless you need them.
Do not 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.
Lock your mailbox, and if you receive large volumes of mail consider using a post office box.
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 gifts, be cautious. Consider the possibility that it may be a scam – even if you think you know the person well.
Social media – be aware of what you share
Scammers can use information you post on social media to steal your identity.
To help protect yourself:
- do not share personal information, such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details, on social media
- understand who can see your information and consider setting your profile to ‘private’
- be cautious about which friend requests you accept
- do not post information that would make you or your family vulnerable, such as birth dates, addresses or photos that contain personal identifying information.
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.
Protect your TFN
We give each taxpayer a unique TFN. You use your TFN and other personal information to lodge tax returns and other tax forms.
To protect your identity:
- Only give your TFN to organisations or people who have a legitimate need for it, such as your tax agent, current employer or bank.
- Destroy or delete your TFN from any documents you are throwing away.
- Don't share your online passwords with others.
- Never send your TFN, password or other sensitive information in emails.
Protect your passwords
Never share your passwords.
You should also consider updating them regularly.
Avoid writing down your passwords and leaving them in your purse, wallet or in a file on your computer.
Consider using a passphrase that includes numbers and symbols which is easy for you to remember but difficult for someone to guess. For example, P!ne@pp1eP!zz@
Protect your computer and phone
Scammers can use viruses, malware and programs to access or steal your personal information. To help protect yourself against digital attacks, you should:
- keep your anti-virus, malware, and spyware protection software up to date
- make sure you have a firewall and it is up to date
- avoid entering personal information or passwords into unsecure websites
- be careful when downloading attachments or clicking links in emails, even if the message seems to come from someone you know
- avoid using public computers (for example, in libraries or internet cafés) to access your personal information.
Stop people from accessing information on your phone by:
- using a password, PIN, or screen lock
- keeping your operating software up to date
- only connecting to secure (encrypted) wireless networks from trusted sources
- considering installing anti-virus software on your phone.
Be aware that older phones can be more susceptible to hacking attempts or other illegal activity.
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. Never share your myGov login details with anyone, including your registered tax agent.
And remember, only a registered tax agent can charge you a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return.
Enrol your voiceprint with us
You can now use your voiceprint to verify your identity when you contact us.
Your voiceprint is unique to you. It is the digital representation of the sound, rhythm, physical characteristics and patterns of your voice. Once you've saved it with us, we confirm your identity when you contact us by matching the characteristics of your voice to your voiceprint.
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.
Complete our online security self-assessment
You can use our online security self-assessment to:
- understand and identify your established online security measures
- identify areas where you can improve your online practices and processes
- get more information and resources to help improve your online security measures.
The assessment is voluntary and anonymous. We do not record your personal information or responses.
If you are the victim of a data breach and your personal identifying information has been accessed, go to Data breach guidance for individuals.
Find out about:
Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.
As an individual, learn how to protect yourself from identity thieves. Know what to protect, including your passwords, computer and phone.