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How to Protect Against Fraud

The phone rings, an individual claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tells you that you have an outstanding debt and if you don’t pay immediately, authorities will be on their way to arrest you.  This is an example of one of the tactics that scammers are using, pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency.  These fraudsters entice fear and are very direct and threatening.

Another example is where you receive an email from CRA claiming that you are entitled to a significant tax refund. The email includes a link asking for personal information including your address, date of birth, and banking information so that money can be direct-deposited into your bank account.

If you have found yourself in one of these situations you are not alone.  CRA extortion scams have been on the rise over the past few years.   Every year, Canadian lose millions of dollars to telephone phishing scams that result in identify and financial theft.  There are many types of frauds – it can be through text message, email, mail or by telephone.  Taxpayers need to be vigilant when they receive these fraudulent communications.   CRA never asks for information such as credit card, health card or passport numbers over text messages, email, or by telephone.    CRA also would never request payment by money service business, iTunes gift cards or bitcoin.  CRA uses registered mail to contact consumers.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from fraudsters and scammers:

  • Never provide personal or financial information on an inbounded phone call;
  • If you receive such a call, ask who is calling and document information;
  • Contact the CRA to confirm if you have any outstanding debts or if you are entitled to a refund (business related calls contact 1-800-959-5525 and for individual concerns, contact 1-800-959-8281); You can also check online on ‘my account’ –  https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html or my business account https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/business-account.html
  • If you have been tricked into sharing your personal or banking information with scammers contact your financial institution immediately to put alerts on your account and contact Equifax and Trans Union to place alerts on your accounts with them too;
  • When in doubt ask yourself: Am I expecting a refund from CRA? Is this too good to be true? How did the person get my email address?
  • If you become a victim to any of the above, report it to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or call 1-888-495-8501; contact Service Canada if you feel your social insurance number has been stolen;
  • Raise awareness and protect yourself and others by sharing your experience through social media.