Tax return season commenced on 1st July, and so people across SA and South African expats living abroad are seeking South African tax services regarding how to file their individual tax return and what they can claim. They may not be aware, however, that they could also benefit from advice on how to keep their personal and financial information safe from the clutches of hackers and phishers. By following our timely tax advice below, you can keep your details safe from prying eyes.
The increasing threat of phishing
Technological advances have made filing your individual tax return easier than ever before, but this in turn has made it easier for criminal gangs who are intent on phishing details from South African taxpayers. The eFiling system allows people to submit their tax returns online, and contemporary tax advice often recommends this method as being fast, easy, and efficient when compared to a traditional paper-based tax return.
Over 29,000 eFiling tax returns were submitted on the first day of the tax season alone, according to SARS. Within three days, this figure had grown to more than 171,000. Criminal gangs are just as aware of this fact as the South African Revenue Service are, and they intend to exploit it by using email-based attacks and entrapment.
What is a phishing attack?
A phishing attack uses an official looking email to encourage the end user to send them information that should remain secret. Taxpayers will be asked to complete an official looking form, but in doing so will send sensitive information directly to the criminals.
Other emails may contain an innocuous looking link, but when clicked upon it allows the criminals who sent the email to access information stored upon your computer. This can include personal and banking details, and tax advice or information you have stored upon your computer, and even the tax return itself.
There have been widespread reports of South African taxpayers receiving these emails and messages within hours of eFiling their tax return, so it’s essential to take steps to prevent it happening to you.
Tax advice for the prevention of phishing attacks
If you’re worried about the possibility of falling fall of phishing attacks, hacking, and other scams, follow our tax advice below:
- Do not open, or respond to, emails that come from an unfamiliar address
- Be wary of SMS messages that seem to relate to tax or financial matters
- Never supply log in or password details, pin numbers, or bank account details
- Be wary of emails that seem to contain spelling errors, or that are badly put together
It’s important to note that SARS never asks for your personal or eFiling details via an email, text message, or telephone call. The golden rule when it comes to internet security is that if an email doesn’t look or feel right, don’t respond to it. Stay safe online, and file your tax return in confidence.
If you require help with your South African tax, let us contact you.