MailGuard Editor 05 October 2012 23:37:00 AEST 1 MIN READ

Bogus ATO 'refund' email detected as October 31st tax deadline approaches


Australians are being targeted by an ATO email scam which informs users they are eligible to receive a tax refund.

The scam emails, blocked before entering business networks by MailGuard's filters, purport to come from the Australian Taxation Office. They target users who are yet to lodge their tax return as the October 31st deadline approaches.

It preys on individuals who think they might be entitled to money back from the government this year. Recipients are asked to submit a tax return request, fill in their email address, full name, and date of birth and respond to the scam email. Those who cooperate risk identity theft and put their online financial accounts in jeopardy.

The volume of ATO refund scam messages has risen dramatically this week to reach 2% of all spam to Australian businesses.

Faking a sender address is extremely easy for cybercriminals. Just because the sender address looks legitimate, don't be fooled into trusting that the email is legitimate.

How the ATO helps to minimise the threat of phishing scams

The ATO has configured a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record for their domain. This makes it easy for MailGuard to identify email spoofing and assists us in deciding that a message is spam. Many organisations employ SPF to make it more difficult for spammers to damage the organisation's reputation.

Nevertheless, businesses that do not have MailGuard in place, could have been exposed to the threat.