PSA: Fake ATO Refund Phishing Email

This morning I received an email purportedly from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) which, at first, excited me (I had just woken up) because I was getting another refund! Hooray! But… there’s always a catch. Upon actually reading the email I noticed several red flags which made me realise that the email is in fact, a phishing email.

The phishing email as seen on my Mac.

The phishing email as seen on my Mac.

First off, the refund amount is listed as AUD. Given the Australian Tax Office operates only in Australia, there is no reason that they would have to specify what currency the refund amount is in, are they all of a sudden going to refund in USD, EUR? I don’t think so. Secondly, the website is cloudaccess.net, not ato.gov.au. The Australian Tax Office would never use another domain for any of their pages.

The last paragraph makes mention of an SSL certificate, yet the resource for the aforementioned link is http, not https (which all secure websites should be). Given how the banks have been training people to look out for the lock for some years now I think this would be a obvious red flag for many people.

The goofballs who made the email even used @ato.com.au as the reply email address. Any Australian resident who uses the internet should know that the Australian Tax Office is a government branch, and will use the .gov.au TLD, not .com.au

For more details regarding the Australian Tax Office and online security, I recommend checking out the ATO’s article titled “Online Security” as it contains examples of past scams, and how to identify a fraudulant email.

Stay safe out there!