Are you getting an even more than usual number of daily phone calls, texts or emails purportedly from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)? We are and it’s driving us crazy.
Our phones are continuously being bombarded by text messages with accompanying threats supposedly from the CRA. And our email inboxes have at least one spam message per day with the headline reading, or a person saying, “Urgent action required.”
It’s not actually the CRA texting, calling and emailing us incessantly, of course. They’re scams waiting to happen given the opportunity. Tax season may have come and gone, but scammers never rest! Simply do not respond but get in touch via a known phone number or email address and find out if indeed the messages are legitimate.
Prenez-Garde – Take Care
These text messages and calls are generated by fraudsters wanting to trick people like you and I into providing personal and financial information with the intent to extort money from us. These scammers can sound very ‘legal’ and convincing and count on the fact that few things are as scary or worrisome as a message from the tax guys…right?
Scammers impersonating CRA agents are getting more and more clever and credible by the day. Sadly, this means unwary people (and even savvy folks) are at risk of losing not only their money but quite possibly, their identity too – all reasons everyone needs to learn how to spot a scam and protect themselves.
Don’t Be a Dupe
All of us, no matter our age or status in life, need to learn to recognise a scam. That said, let’s look at some facts. Scams are perpetrated via email, snail mail (regular postal services), text messages, or by telephone. Short of knocking on our doors – which, by the way, has happened to us – we all need to become more vigilant.
Fraudsters may insist you visit a website (fake no doubt) where you are requested to enter your personal details. Keep this in mind: the CRA and other government agencies will never send you a link into which they’d ask you to enter personal details.
- Demand or say they need your personal information such as your Social Insurance Number (SIN), personal financial information or credit card details, often under the guise of sending you a refund.
- Insist you take action right away with little explanation.
- Scare or intimidate you into paying a fake debt saying that it must be paid instantly.
- Threaten you with arrest or deportation if you don’t comply.
- Request you use unusual forms of payment saying they will accept payment via gift cards, prepaid credit cards or cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
- Ask for your bank account or credit card number or even your Passport details.
Before You Act:
- Ask yourself: Do I owe who’s calling or texting me? Is there a reason for them to be contacting me?
- Does the message or person offer a proposition that sounds too good to be true?
- Think about how the CRA usually contacts you. Generally speaking, their method of communication is by conventional mail. Or through your registered online My Account or My Business Account.
- Check to see if you have a bona fide message in your online My Account if you have one set up.
- Delete without opening, any message you sense may be a scam, or if you’re unsure if the message is a fraud, call the CRA yourself at 1-800-959-8281 and inquire if they are indeed trying to contact you.
- If you get a phone call from CRA, tell them you’ll call them back on their official number. Do not engage otherwise.
CRA agents are available to assist you:
- Monday to Friday: 8 am to 8 pm (local time)
- Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm (local time)
- Sunday: Closed
Learn more about what Canada Revenue Agency employees will and won’t do when contacting taxpayers at canada.ca/be-scam-smart. Be aware that the government will never demand immediate payment nor will it threaten you with arrest.
Finally, if you do feel you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your local police service immediately.