Here's how to protect yourself from scammers this tax season
While figuring out the math surrounding your tax receipts, T4s, and RRSP contributions may be a scary task to take on during tax season, the real terror is losing your hard-earned money to scammers pretending to represent the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Be it over the phone, email, text message, or online refund forms, there are many ways that people pretending to be the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) may try to trick you or your loved ones into providing personal information.
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The Government of Canada has provided a few resources to help you protect yourself from falling victim to the increasingly prevalent scams.
Here’s what you need to know about these scams, and about the CRA, to keep you safe this tax season.
These are the things that the CRA might do when communicating with you
If you’re trying to determine whether or not the person you’re talking to is actually someone from the CRA, keep in mind the things that the CRA may do — and if the person on the other end of the phone/email chain is doing something outside this list, it’s time to start asking questions:
- Verify your identity by asking for personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address and account, or social insurance number
- Ask for details about your account, in the case of a business enquiry
- Call you to begin an audit process
- Notify you by email when a new message or a document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view in secure CRA portals such as My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client
- Email you a link to a CRA webpage, form, or publication that you ask for during a telephone call or a meeting with an agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links)
- Ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location
- Send you a notice of assessment or reassessment
- Ask you to pay an amount you owe through any of the CRA’s payment options
- Take legal action to recover the money you owe, if you refuse to pay your debt
- Write to you to begin an audit process
There are things the CRA will never do
The following is a list of things that official CRA officers will not do during any communication with Canadians, and if the person you are talking to does any of the following, you’ll know that you have a scam on your hands:
- Ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s license
- Use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police
- Leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information
- Give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
- Email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
- Send you an email with a link to your refund
- Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
- Threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence
- Set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment
- Use text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with taxpayers under any circumstance
Tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a scammer
If the person on the other end of the phone is telling you that you must take immediate action, it’s likely a scam call. Look out for if the caller is asking for any information that isn’t related to your tax return, or the money that you may owe the CRA.
Keeping a tab on whether or not you’ve filed your taxes on time, if you’ve received any word from the CRA via email or mail recently, and if the CRA has your most recent contact information is a good way of determining the validity of a caller saying they are contacting you from the CRA.
If the caller is asking you to pay taxes on lottery winnings, it’s definitely a scam. The CRA does not collect taxes or fees on lottery winnings in Canada, according to the Government of Canada webpage.
What you should never do when talking with someone claiming to be from an agency that needs your personal information
Here are the best ways to ensure that you keep your personal information safe so that you are less at risk of identity theft.
- Do not provide personal information over the internet or by email
- Do not provide your access codes, passwords, user IDs, or PINs to anyone
- Do not give financial donations to charities without first ensuring that the charity is registered via the Government of Canada’s website
- Do not click on links in emails without reading it over and thinking carefully. Personal information can be stolen with one click of a link
- Do not trust caller ID, as it can be altered by scammers
- Don’t reveal your SIN number to anyone unless you are sure that they are legally entitled to ask for it
- Do not wait to report lost or stolen credit and debit cards
- Don’t write passwords out on physical pieces of paper or carry them around with you
Examples of tactics and phrases that scammers use
The Government of Canada has provided a few transcripts of the types of emails, phone calls, and voice mails that scammers leave to scare people into providing their personal information.
If you receive a message that looks or sounds anything like the following, odds are you’re the target of a scam:
The reason behind this call is to notify you that we have registered a criminal case against your name concerning a tax evasion and tax fraud in the federal court house. So if you want any further information about this case, please make sure you give us a call back as quick as possible to our direct hotline number to the Canada Revenue Agency Headquarters. That is 613-927-9919, I will please repeat the number, it is 613-927-9919. If we don’t receive a call from your side, please be prepared to face the legal consequences, as the issue of tax is extremely serious and time-sensitive. So have a blessed time.
INTERAC e-Transfer Reminder : You received money from CRA
Mon 2017 07-17 9:44 AM
To [LINK to personal email has been removed.]
Hi [LINK to personal email has been removed.],
You received $458.00 (CAD) from Canada Revenue Agency.
Deposit your money
Expires: July 28, 2017
FAQs | This is a secure Transaction
Via text message:
What to do if you’ve fallen victim to a scam or have been targeted by a scammer
If you believe that the person calling/emailing/texting you is doing so for nefarious purposes, the Government of Canada asks that you report the call to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you have been tricked into providing your personal or financial information, contact your local police.
If you believe that your Social Insurance Number has been stolen, contact Service Canada by calling 1-800-206-7218.
If any of your tax information, including CRA logins or passwords, has been compromised, contact the Government of Canada through the following link.