As tax season starts revving up, it is essential to remind ourselves to remain vigilant in our fight against tax fraud.
Fraudsters will go to incredible lengths to appear legitimate to fool you into sharing your personal information. For example, they provide a fake badge number or name, their caller ID appears from Ottawa or the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), and they disguise emails to look like official websites.
So, keep your eye out for these red flags!
Pressure from the caller to “act now.” The caller may start to use threatening or coercive language to scare you into making an immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards (e.g., iTunes, Amazon, etc.). Hang up! They aren’t a CRA agent.
Requests for information. These fake agents will ask for your name; after all, they don’t work for the CRA. They may even take it further and ask for information unrelated to tax season. Regardless of what they are babbling about, hang up! If you are still unsure, remember that they didn’t know your name.
Money owed to the CRA. Making threats of arrest and requests for your credit card information if you don’t pay a fine is bogus. The CRA doesn’t call and threaten people to pay their tax debt. If they ask for a fee to speak with a contact centre agent, the same goes.
Receiving text messages or direct messages on social media. The CRA doesn’t use non-traditional methods of communication, including text or social media messages. If you receive either or both, delete and block immediately.
Note: The CRA has introduced multi-factor authentication for all its sign-in services, which provides additional security for your account. However, text messages are never used to start a discussion about your taxes.
Phishing Emails. Tech makes it easy to access and share information. Beware of malicious links in emails masked as the CRA. These links will direct you to fake CRA websites that ask for your personal information. Never provide personal information through email or website.
The GREEN Flag: Everyone should be familiar with the CRA’s three methods of communication – phone, email, mail. You can visit the CRA website to learn the CRA’s wills and will-nots for each method.
Let’s work together to minimize the net of opportunity for scam artists to access our personal information! Always report a scam through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.