Phishing scam impersonating myGov to harvest personal details

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday May 10, 2021

(Image: Adobe/adimas)

The Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia have issued a warning regarding a phishing scam that has been impersonating the government via email.

The fake emails claim to be from myGov, and contain screenshots of the myGovID app. The emails ask recipients to click a link to verify their identity using a ‘secure form’. The link goes to a fake myGov page requesting personal information and banking details.

Warning signs in the emails include the request for recipients to click a link to confirm their details and spelling errors, according to ATO assistant commissioner Ben Foster.

“The ATO and myGov does send emails and SMS messages, however will never send you an email or SMS with a hyperlink directing you to a login page for our online services,” he said.

The agencies have assured that ATO systems, myGov, and myGovID have not been compromised by the scam.

Foster said the fake emails aimed to collect personal information from victims rather than gain access to information via myGov or myGovID. He noted that there would likely be more of these kinds of attempts to harvest identity details in the lead up to tax time.

“So we encourage everyone to be on alert and take the time to remind family and friends to be on the lookout and stay safe online,” he said.

An image of the scam. Source: ATO

Scams are becoming more sophisticated, Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen has warned. He has urged people to be wary of emails asking for identity documents or personal identifying information.

“If you’ve opened an email that looks suspicious, don’t click any links, open any attachments or reply to it,” he said.

“If you‘ve received the suspicious email and provided your myGov sign in information you should take immediate action. Change your myGov password and if you’ve provided your banking details, contact your bank.”

READ MORE: Senior federal government staff member’s email ‘spoofed’ in COVID-19 phishing campaign

Jongen has encouraged people who are concerned or in need of support to call Services Australia’s Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk on 1800 941 126. The Helpdesk is open Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm AEST.

“Staff will be able to give you advice on what to do if you’ve been scammed, and connect you with identity recovery services,” Jongen said.

The agencies have offered some tips to help people protect themselves from scammers. Individuals should:

  • Be cautious when clicking on hyperlinks embedded in SMS and emails, and don’t click on links or attachments in emails from unknown sources,
  • Ensure the URL displayed in the browser includes or when logging in with myGovID,
  • Keep personal information and passwords secure. Don’t share passwords with others, and change them regularly,
  • Install anti-virus software on all devices and set the software to automatically check for updates on a daily basis,
  • Make data security an everyday priority, practice good cyber hygiene and constantly review security habits,
  • Store personal information in a secure place and make sure electronic documents containing personal information are secure. Avoid carrying a birth certificate or passport in a wallet or handbag unless necessary,
  • When downloading the myGovID app make sure it’s from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

People who receive a suspicious SMS or email that looks like it’s from myGov can report it to ScamWatch. The latest information about scams can be found on the ATO and Services Australia websites.

READ MORE: Service NSW struggling to contact thousands of cyber attack victims


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