You may have seen headlines in the news lately regarding unsuspecting people being tricked into giving huge amounts of money to fraudsters who were pretending to be CRA agents. This form of fraud is on the rise and is especially prevalent during the time of year when Canadians are filing taxes.

Here are some ways which you may be targeted by fraudsters and some tips on how to keep yourself protected while you are filing your taxes this year.

Phone

You will be contacted by phone and once you pick it up, a voice recording will state that you owe money and that you may be penalized by way of a fine or even prison time, if you don’t contact them back. If you do not pick up the call, a voice mail with the same recording is often left. Calls like these should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and then deleted from your voicemail.

You may also be contacted by text stating that a transfer was made to your account or that you may have a payment waiting. The purpose of this text is to get you to click the link and enter your details to a fraudulent page.
The CRA will never contact you through text, so if you do receive a text from someone claiming to be a part of the CRA, don’t click on the link or reply back. Below is an example of what a fraudulent text may look like.

Email

Fraudulent emails often look like legitimate emails from government sites. Fraudsters will send you these emails in hopes that you click on the link and enter your personal information into the forms. Below is a sample of a web site that you are directed to when clicking on the link of a fraudulent email. The site looks legitimate but it is a phishing scam.

Mail

A letter will appear in your mailbox stating that you did not pay your taxes and that there is a balance owing to your account which you must pay. The letter may instruct you to fill out forms with your personal information and send them to a certain address. The letter may also inform you to make payments through bitcoin, online transfers, or iTunes gift cards. Letters of these sort often look legitimate because they may have Government of Canada logos and watermarks.
The CRA will never ask for payment through bitcoin, online transfers, or gift cards so requests such as those should definitely be red flags and indicate that something is wrong. When presented with these kinds of letters, contact the CRA through the Government of Canada website to confirm if anything was mailed to your residence. Below is a copy of a fraudulent letter that has been sent in the mail.

Protecting Yourself

  • If someone is saying they work for the CRA, ask them for their details. You have the right to ask a representative of the CRA for their name, phone number, and the location which they are working out of in order to verify their identity
  • Don’t give out any personal information or account details over the phone or through e-mail.
  • Never agree to meet someone at an undisclosed location for any reason whatsoever. CRA representatives will never call you to arrange a meeting in person.
  • Create strong passwords using a variety of different character types and change your password if you think it may be compromised.
  • Ensure information is entered on sites using an https address in order to make sure it is secure.
  • Keep your SIN number secure and if you have lost your SIN card report it to Service Canada
  • If you suspect your being targeted by a fraudster, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501

These scams use intimidation in order to force people to hand over their hard earned money. It is important to remember that representatives of the CRA will never use aggressive language or try to intimidate you through the threat of penalties.

Remember that you can always contact the CRA through their site in order to verify information when you are unsure of whether they are actually contacting you. Keep this information in mind and be safe and vigilante when filing your taxes this year!

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