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  • Writer's pictureAdrian De Vito

February Tax Update

What changed on 1 Jan 2019

  • Tampon tax (GST on sanitary products) scrapped

  • Voluntary crackdown begins on credit card providers to protect consumers who cannot pay-off their credit card debt or who cannot afford an increased limit

  • Higher Education Loan Program:

  • New lifetime caps prevent students repeating courses or continually enrolling in new courses.

  • New loan limits: Increase in fee assistance for students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses with increases in their loan limit from an estimated $130,552 in 2019 to a new limit of $150,000. $104,440 for all other students.

Another year, another scam

While data driven crime is more sophisticated and difficult to address than ever, human error and judgement remains one of the major problems.

The latest data breach report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is surprising for the simplicity of the problems - 37% of data beaches resulted from human error not malicious attack. In over 20% of reported cases, personal information was simply sent to the wrong recipient. Another 6% of complaints were attributed to system faults.

Organisations are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent a breach occurring, put in place the systems and procedures to identify and assess a breach, and issue a notification if a breach is likely to cause ‘serious harm’.

What the statistics from the OAIC demonstrate is that procedural integrity in your business is paramount – train your team to not only be wary of scams but ingrain best practice for the day to day management of personal data. Privacy protection is not just an ‘IT’ issue.

Remember, hackers can gain access to your business’s data simply by a staff member clicking on a link.

Simple measures you can take:

  • Have strong and enforced processes in place for the management of personal client information.

  • Strong authorising procedures for payments – two-step authority.

  • Change passwords often and use two-step authentication where available.

  • If a client’s bank details have changed, phone them and check the details.

  • Train your team on cyber security:

  • Check requests for payments that arrive electronically from other team members and management.

  • Check email addresses are legitimate – look for slight variations.

  • Be suspicious of poorly written emails.

  • Don’t click on links from email – always use your account with the supplier or Government department to check details.

  • If contacted by the ATO, contact us to verify the information if you are concerned.

ATO scams

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned about the emergence of a scam where “…scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.”

The refund scam follows a more sinister four phase scam stating there is a warrant out for your arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years. The scam starts with a text message purportedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Within minutes, your mobile rings and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. They then ask for your accountant’s details. You then receive a call purportedly from your ‘accounting firm’ asking you to verify the AFP/ATO claims. Finally, you are provided with a way, if you act quickly, to make the AFP go away by paying a fee before your ‘imminent arrest’.

The ATO states that it will not:

  • send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;

  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation;

  • request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or

  • request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek the team @ Clear Accounting Solutions to independently verify your interpretation and the information’s applicability to your particular circumstances.

#ATOscam #ATOtaxupdate

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