21 Jan 11 On emails, spam and identity theft
MEMBER 3 writes:
"Some years ago we created a "special" email address for all our dealings with the ATO. This enables us to sensibly manage the stream of messages (and propaganda) emanating from the ATO, and is more convenient when we have staff changes.
No-one else in the world has been given this email address. Only the ATO. This "special" email address has served us well for many years.
We all know that the ATO has recently attempted to outsource some debt-collection work. The ATO has given the debt collectors much personal information about taxpayers including Full Names, Addresses, Tax File Numbers, Telephone Numbers, Tax Agent details, etc. Probably bank account details too.
It appears that the ATO has also been distributing our "special" email address, since we're now receiving much spam and junk emails from numerous questionable businesses attempting to sell their services and wares. (Next time a Debt Collector calls, I'll ask them to confirm my email address.)
Is this appropriate behaviour for the ATO? What right does the ATO have to pass-on sensitive personal data of taxpayers and tax agents?
Did the ATO get any non-disclosure agreements from the Debt Collectors to ensure that they couldn't sell or pass-on any of this personal information? What steps did the ATO take to ensure that they haven't created an enormous opportunity for identity theft ?
It is also ironic that the ATO needs to send emails to Tax Agents, yet they never give us their email addresses. Using email@example.com usually gets to the right person, but they're unable to reply.
When we phone the ATO call centres, all they do is send email to another section. All day sending emails to each other without anybody doing any actual work. Seems wondrously inefficient.
Keep up the good work and best wishes for 2011."