The Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry, is warning Australians of a new email phishing scam using the lure of a tax refund to try to steal private information.

“This particular scam is quite sophisticated and uses convincing fakes of what could be easily mistaken for Australian Tax Office web pages,” the Assistant Treasurer said.

“The email claims to be from the Australian Taxation Office and shows a fake Tax Office email address as the sender.

“Reports coming into the ATO suggest there is a high volume of these emails going out over the internet.

“The email uses the Tax Office logo and includes the words ‘Tax refund’ in the subject heading and the following text:

“General information about e-tax, including the demonstration, benefits of using e-tax, computer and eligibility requirements, and security.”

There may be other variations to the subject and text.

The email asks people to enter their email, name and date of birth to search for any refund owing, which then directs them to a bogus Tax Office website and asks for personal and credit card details. An example of this fake sit is attached below.

“Anyone who receives the email should delete it immediately,” the Assistant Treasurer said.

“The Tax Office never sends emails asking people to provide personal information or credit card details.

“You should always be wary of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the Tax Office, particularly those that encourage you to follow embedded links to other sites.

“You should type internet addresses directly into your internet browser rather than following links in emails as an extra precaution.

“Anyone who has already entered their credit card information into the bogus site should immediately report it to their credit card provider.”

More information on online security including examples of scam forms and emails is available at the Tax Office website, www.ato.gov.au

“Unfortunately, the incidence of cyber criminals, scammers and hackers is on the increase – with bogus emails targeting Australians from around the world,” the Assistant Treasurer said.

“Identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world as thieves try to extract bank accounts and credit card details to steal or to commit other crimes using false identities.

“The Rudd Government considers e-security to be one of Australia’s top national security priorities and is committed to strengthening our e-security arrangements.”