It doesn’t have to be tax season to receive fraudulent requests that impersonate the Canada Revenue Agency.
Because the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has information on all Canadian taxpayers, fraudsters try to impersonate the CRA to trick you into revealing your personal and private information. In addition, fraudsters will impersonate CRA to falsely demand tax payments, or scam Canadians into supplying banking information and passwords because you might be expecting a tax refund.
Here are some common Canada Revenue Agency scams that fraudsters use to trick taxpayers.
- You’re Getting a Refund. You get a notification by phone or email from the “CRA” claiming there is a refund pending. In order for you to receive the refund you must provide personal information such as bank information and passwords, your Social Insurance Number, birthdate, and other information that they will use to access your accounts or steal your identity.
- You Owe Taxes. You get a phone call from a person claiming to work for Revenue Canada, saying that you owe unpaid taxes. Then the fraudsters demand that you pay them by buying prepaid Visa cards, MasterCards or other retail gift cards, and to call back with the codes from the backs of the prepaid cards. If you hesitate, the scammers will make threats about jail time or deportation for unpaid taxes. If you hesitate, the scammers will escalate to coercive language — even profanity.
- Please Confirm Your Personal Information. You get an email that urges you to follow a link to a CRA website — a fake website — that asks you to enter personal information to confirm your identity. Fraudsters can use these fake websites to gather your personal information and steal your identity. They will often name their fake site so it looks like the official address, but may be spelled slightly differently. The real CRA site is cra-arc.gc.ca.
What’s real, and what’s not? Fraudsters are constantly finding new ways of tricking people. By knowing the difference, you can stay safe.
Be vigilant when you receive telephone calls, emails, text messages — or even mail — that claim to be from Canada Revenue Agency. There are very few situations where the CRA will contact you, and there are certain things the CRA will never do.
The CRA WILL send email ONLY under these very specific circumstances:
- If you’ve signed up for online mail, available through CRA’s My Account online services, they WILL send a registration confirmation to the email address that you provide, and they WILL send you a notification email saying that you have new messages in their secure services portal.
- If you’ve requested CRA to supply you with specific information, they WILL — at your request — send you an email with a link to the information you require.
The CRA will NOT do the following:
- Ask for personal information of any kind by email or text message.
- Send email with a link and ask you to divulge personal or financial information.
- Request payments by prepaid credit cards.
- Give your taxpayer information to another person, unless formal authorization is provided by you.
- Leave personal information on an answering machine.
Better Safe than Sorry
It’s always best to err on the side of caution if you have questions about any email or phone call that supposedly comes from the CRA. Don’t take a chance; stolen identities and: