Every year Canadians report a new tax scam. It always starts off the same. You get a phone call from someone claiming to be an employee of the Canada Revenue Agency. They say that they absolutely need your personal information (social insurance number, passport number, banking information) so that you can either receive a refund or benefit form, or that there is a warrant out for your arrest if you do not pay a forgotten fee.
On the other hand, you may receive an email from what appears to be a legitimate CRA email address. You click on the link and you’re brought to what looks like the Canada Revenue Agency’s official website. You’re then prompted for your personal info. In some extreme cases, people posing as CRA employees show up on your doorstep with fictitious warrants or communications claiming that you owe them money that needs to be paid right away otherwise you will be thrown in jail.
Before you know it, you’ve given away your PIN and SIN to a scam artist who is planning on emptying your life savings, opening credit cards in your name and stealing your identity. The most prominent tax scams happen on the phone. Here’s how to spot them:
- You may see what appears to be a CRA number show up on your caller ID. Google that number to make sure it’s not fraudulent.
- Any phone call you get from an unknown number claiming to represent the CRA is a scam. The CRA will never call you from an unknown number. They’re a government organization, they have an official phone number and they use it to make calls.
- The CRA will not leave personal information on your answering machine detailing money you owe or money you will be refunded. If the CRA does call you and leave a message they will not say what it is regarding to protect your privacy.
- If someone calls you claiming to be from the CRA and asks for payment via prepaid credit cards, they are definitely a scam artist.
- Canada Revenue Agency will never call you to request tax information for another person. If someone calls you to ask for the tax info of your spouse/partner, family member or friend, it’s a scam.
If you do actually owe money to the CRA or are to be awarded a refund you’ll know it because it will come from official Canada Revenue Agency means. However, if you’re unsure, give them a call directly to avoid being the victim of a tax scam.