CRA Scammers – this is important!
There are phone calls that we all don’t like to receive – wrong numbers, soliciting phone calls and maybe even prank calls. But beware the CRA SCAM calls where fake voice messages and even real people are calling you pretending to be the CRA. Most calls will contain a very threatening message to stress you into taking action. One message that I have personally received was from an automated messaging system that called my phone, to inform me that “the CRA has a warrant for my arrest!” Thankfully, the CRA is indeed not planning to arrest me. It’s a scam and it’s a tactic to get me very worried and concerned.
There other versions too. One version is where people are told they owe the CRA taxes and that they must provide bank or credit card information over the phone to pay the taxes. Another, is where you’re told that you have a huge potential tax refund to collect – but of course, they need your bank information to deposit the money! Whatever the message is, the goal is to get you to provide your personal information or even to make a payment directly to the scammer. Don’t believe me? Pardon the bluntness, but “Have you been under a rock?”
These scam are not new and they’re increasing in frequency. Here are some examples:
CBC reporting on it http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/cra-scam-taxes-canada-1.4564308
Here is the Government of Canada addressing the issue in fact – make sure you read this through (I’ve bolded the text, underlined and italicized it!) https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/security/protect-yourself-against-fraud.html
Here is a link to a video on the Calgary Police Service’s YouTube page, showing an officer actually calling back the scammer to as part of their investigation and to serve as a PSA (public service announcement) to warn others: https://youtu.be/MuHVjLNGDAQ
The key thing is this, there are phone call scams and even more prevalent email scams. So, keep this in mind regarding any communication that claims to be from the CRA or any government agency:
- Never provide any personal information over email or phone unless you are sure that you are indeed dealing with the CRA – such as you are actually calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 (more government agency phone numbers are listed in the link below)
- Always be skeptical of any emails from the CRA, especially if you haven’t signed up to receive emails from the CRA.
- If you have registered for email communication with the CRA, the CRA will never ask for credit card information or payment by credit card, cash only, Bitcoin, PayPal etc. If you do see this request, delete the email. The CRA will also never ask for payment information over the phone. Do not comply.
- Don’t leave any information on their answering machine, frankly don’t call the suspicious number back. Don’t reply to the suspicious email.
From all the years of my experience as a CPA, the CRA will send you a paper letter in the good old mailbox if there is ever anything important. Or, if you have signed up for electronic communication, make sure to check your CRA account regularly – which is also a very easy way to confirm what the correct situation is between you and the CRA.
Here are the ways to call the CRA: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/contact-information/telephone-numbers.html
And here is what the CRA will actually email you about – once again – only if you have registered for the CRA to email you: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/online-mail-helping-you-organize-your-canada-revenue-agency-mail.html
Until next the next post, stay safe and stay vigilant!