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Don't Panic!

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  • Don't Panic!

    I have a little story Members might find amusing.
    Last Thursday I rec'd a phone call from a Market Research company saying they were aware that I had recently applied on-line to the Australian Tax Office for an ABN for a community group (for whom I am Secretary/Treasurer) and would I participate in a paid 1 hour survey the following day about the effectiveness of this process.
    I said "sure" and they sent me an email confirming the details and asking for my bank account for payment of my fee.
    Before responding to their email I Googled the company, noting phone numbers, Inet addresses, etc and also a hit connecting the company with ATO survey contracts.
    On Friday I did the survey with a person who identified themselves by name as an "ATO Research Officer" based in Brisbane.
    The phone I/V started with 10 mins of 'icebreakers' & chit-chat and then moved on to specific questions about the ATO on-line ABN application process.
    On the WE wife and friends expressed concern about providing my bank account number (I'd intentionally given one with a small balance) and thought the whole thing sounded dodgy.
    Monday I phoned the ATO seeking verification of the 'survey project' but was advised they were not aware of it. I left it with their Fraud Section, checked the balances of all my bank accounts and then drove around all the banks advising them and changing internet banking passwords at the actual branches in case my computer had been compromised (since checked and all OK).
    This morning I phoned the Market Research company and asked them to explain why the ATO did not appear to be aware of them.
    They immediately sent me an email with a link to the ATO website where the details of the Survey were explained, and I received an apologetic call from the CEO asking if I was OK with what had been provided.
    I don't blame the ATO person for not knowing about the 'Survey' - it's a big organisation and they probably figured that the Market Research company had provided sufficient information to establish the bona-fides of the thing. I suspect the 'problem' was the email with the 'link' to the ATO - which I did not receive until the Market Research company sent it this am. Had I received it earlier it would have answered some questions.
    I guess we are all a bit hyper-sensitive to the possibility of cyber-fraud these days and at times it is hard to know what level of due diligence is necessary before engaging with someone where personal information is disclosed.

  • #2
    Good story Rocky. The general rule is to err on the side of caution. Treat any unsolicited approach with caution.
    I think the Market Research company should have provided the ATO link in their confirmation email. I have participated in market research and they usually pay on the day or night of the survey.

    I hope you didn't provide your banking details via email.