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Victim of identity theft? The taxman can help
The first section of this article outlines measures that are definitely going ahead come the new 2014-15 financial year, while the second section contains changes outlined in the recent Federal Budget that have yet to be legislated.
Such is the very real threat nowadays of identity theft, the Tax Office has set up a Client Identity Support Centre to help taxpayers who have had their identities stolen or misused.
The Tax Office said it will give every assistance it can, and will provide information and advice to help people re-establish a stolen identity. If taxpayers believe their tax file number (TFN) may have been compromised, they are advised to call the Tax Office support centre on 1800 179 647 (8am to 6pm EST, Monday to Friday) or email [email protected].
Your TFN is used to identify you in your dealings with the Tax Office. Should you discard or recycle any records or other documents, the Tax Office’s advice is to destroy or delete your TFN from these documents beforehand, as the TFN and other personal information can be used to lodge tax returns and other tax forms.
A first step may be to check that you haven’t simply temporarily misplaced your TFN, rather than assuming it has been misused. The Tax Office said you should also look out for any indication that suspicious activity may be underway. “For example, let us know if you have received a notice of assessment about a return you haven’t lodged, or if you have included your TFN in a profile you posted online while looking for work,” the Tax Office said.
If your TFN has been compromised, the first steps the Tax Office will take will be to re-establish and confirm your identity with you and to check your tax records. Other action taken will depend on your situation and circumstances.
Re-establish and confirm your identity
You may need to re-establish your identity by providing the Tax Office with proof — this may include details of personal information, such as your date of birth, address, bank account details, or TFN if
you have that somewhere. (See the list of agencies and departments that may be of use at the end of this article). You may also need to provide the Tax Office with information sourced from identification documentation, such as a previous notice of assessment you may have filed away.
“We may ask you for original or certified copies of your identification, depending on your situation,” the Tax Office said. “If you have set up a secret question and answer with us, then we may ask you for those details as part of this process to re-establish your identity.”
Once original or certified copies of documents have been supplied to the Tax Office, it will need to confirm the authenticity of your identification documents, which it warns can take a number of weeks.
Check your tax records
Once your personal details have been confirmed, the Tax Office will check your tax records by looking at:
The revenue collection agency may ask you to confirm the information on file so it can determine which activities are yours, and which are those from another person who may be using your TFN.
The length of the investigation will vary depending on how much information is in your record, whether another person has actually used your TFN or not, and how easy it is to confirm authenticity.
Third party confirmation of identity
The following offices, agencies, and government departments may be of help in compiling records to help re-establish your identity, depending on your past interactions with any of them.
Offices of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Australian Securities & Investments Commission
Child Support Agency
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
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