Beware of Emails and Calls Claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency
By Kody Wilson, CPA, CA, CBV
It seems every day I turn on the news, I hear of another innocent taxpayer that has been deceived by a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam. Taxpayers need to be diligent when dealing with someone purporting to be CRA, given that the scams change frequently and are becoming seemingly more creative.
Beware of phone calls, mail, emails, and text messages claiming to be from the CRA. Please immediately disregard and delete any emails you receive from CRA that contain links or seem suspicious in any way, as indicated below. This is one of the most common scams and often alerts a taxpayer to a refund from CRA if they just click the link in the e-mail.
CRA will not do any of the following:
• Send emails with a link or text messages and ask taxpayers to divulge personal or financial information, such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number;
• Request payments by prepaid credit cards or gift cards;
• Give taxpayer information to another person, unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer; or
• Leave personal information on an answering machine.
You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to work for CRA, insisting that they need your personal information in order for you to receive a refund or a benefit payment. Some fraudulent calls have involved threatening or coercive language to urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website to verify their personal information. The caller will often threaten that failure to pay will result in additional fees and/or jail time or deportation. I have seen a drastic increase of scams in this area with very aggressive scam artists on the other line, based on what has been relayed to us by clients. These are scams!
If you receive such a call, we recommend you do the following:
1. Ask them to provide you with the caller’s name, telephone number, employee numbers, and the name of their manager.
2. Ask them who is listed as the authorized representative on your file? If they identify your accountant, please ask them to call your accountant directly.
3. If they persist, tell them you will call them back, and then immediately phone your accountant. Most accountants have experience dealing with these types of scams.
If you do not have an accountant, go to CRA’s website and call Collections. Ask to speak with the person who called you using the information you collected during the initial phone call.
Do not provide or confirm any personal information. If you receive a call saying that you owe money to the CRA, you can call CRA at 1-800-959-8281 or check My Account on CRA’s website to be sure.
Be sure to report any deceptive telemarketing to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501. Contact the local police, if you suspect you were a victim of fraud or were coerced into giving a caller your personal or financial information. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
For more information on these scams, CRA has posted an alert “Protect yourself against fraud” on their website https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/security/protect-yourself-against-fraud.html