Tax season also means scam season

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Many of us have heard of the CRA phone call scam. This is when someone calls and says they are from the CRA. They tell you that you owe the government money in taxes. They demand payment with gift cards. They threaten to get the RCMP to lock you up or deport you if you don’t pay.

It’s a good thing that these scams have been revealed. Now, we know what to look out for:

  • They may ask you to pay with gift cards, pre-paid credit cards, or bitcoin;
  • They may try to scare you into paying.

Be careful! There are newer versions of the CRA scam. They can come through phone calls, text messages, and emails. Here are some examples:

  1. You get a voice mail message from someone claiming to be from the CRA. They say you made a mistake when filing your taxes. If you call back, they will try to blackmail you into paying a certain amount.
  2. You get a text or email with a link. It says you can click the link to get your tax refund right away.
  3. You get a message asking you to confirm changes you made to your My Account page. Even if you didn’t make any changes, they will still ask you to confirm.

(For more information on frauds and scams, please visit the Examples of fraudulent communications page from the Canada Revenue Agency).

These schemes can be tricky. If you don’t pay attention, they can catch you off guard.

Signs of a fraudulent call, text, or email:

  1. You didn’t opt for emails – If the “CRA” sends an email and you didn’t give them your email address or sign up to get emails from CRA.
  2. It asks for personal or financial information – The CRA will never ask you for your credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.
  3. It contains links in the body of the message – The CRA will never ask you to click on a link to fill out an online form with personal or financial details, or link to your refund. They will only email you a link to a web page form or publication if you asked for it.
  4. The tone is off – The CRA will never use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest, deportation, or taking away other government benefits. They will never demand that you pay right away using bitcoin, gift cards, or pre-paid credit cards, or Interac e-transfer.
  5. Typo or grammatical errors – Spelling mistakes, uneven formatting, and bad grammar are signs that a scammer is in a hurry.

To be safe:

  1. Don’t rush – Don’t give out information or money right away.
  2. Think first before acting – Ask yourself why the CRA needs your personal information. If it doesn’t make sense or seems suspicious, don’t do anything.
  3. Check if the communication came from the CRA – Call the numbers on the official CRA webpage, not from the suspicious message.
  4. Make your CRA account extra secure – Use multi-factor authentication. This is an extra step that can help protect your account.
  5. Report any scam messages you get – This can help stop someone else from becoming a victim. Report them to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you think your CRA MyAccount or SIN have been compromised, contact CRA or Service Canada.

Article updated February 16, 2023.
Sources: Slam the scam-Protect yourself against fraud, Government of Canada; CRA presentation (Feb. 9, 2022).

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