There has never been a more important time to safeguard your personal data online with the launch of integrated government applications (apps) and online services.
Australians need to be hypervigilant when electronically sharing personal data such as Tax File Numbers and Medicare details which can end up in the hands of hackers who use the information to steal your identity and create fake MyGov and other State-based services accounts.
While integrated government apps and online portals are making life easier for us to access our records with various government agencies, we need to be mindful that the key for scammers is as simple as a Tax File or Medicare number.
We are seeing a growing number of cases of email hackers getting access to personal information and correlating it with information on social media to steal your identity or access your existing accounts, which can have disastrous financial consequences.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has introduced new requirements for taxation agents to verify the identity of their clients to ensure they are legitimate, and they are not acting on behalf of a scammer.
The new measures introduced by the ATO are in response to the increasing sophistication of online scammers who are cleverly targeting individuals with weak passwords and computer security, or they are duped into sending personal data in response to phishing emails.
Not only do you have to be mindful about the data you send to people, but you also need to be confident that the person you are sharing your financial information with such as a financial adviser or accountant treats that data as if they were in possession of a 12-carat diamond.
Once your identity is stolen it can be a costly and lengthy process to regain control of your virtual life and reverse the financial and sometimes reputational damage inflicted by the scammer.