Be Aware of Scammers Pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency

It’s only natural that you might panic if you got a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency saying you owe money. After all, the CRA is a powerful agency with broad collection powers and failing to cooperate with the CRA would get you into serious financial, and potentially even legal, trouble.

Scammers know this and they take advantage.

Common Scams

It seems like there are new scams every day, perpetrated by people claiming to represent the CRA. One of the most common is phone calls, emails or text messages where someone states that they are with the CRA and they need your personal information for one reason or another. It’s important that you never give out personal or financial details such as your social insurance number, credit card numbers, or bank account numbers to anyone over the phone, through email, or via text. This information can be used to commit identity fraud.

Another common scam is the fake website. In these cases, a person is urged to enter sensitive information into a website that looks like the official CRA site, but isn’t. Again, once this information is provided, it can be used to steal money or your identity. Never click on any links or enter your login or financial information into any site other than the official CRA My Account page: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/myaccount/

Some websites are created to look like this site, and they may have a similar URL, but they are not the real thing.

Other scams include one where a person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA. After describing a bleak situation (you owe a lot of money, you’re going to be jailed, etc.) the scammer will say that they can help you if you send them payment via some non-standard form of payment, such as a wire transfer or a prepaid card purchase. This person is scamming you. If someone calls you and demands payment right away, or demands that you give them prepaid cards or other strange forms of payment, hang up.

What Should You Do if You Think You’re Being Scammed

If you’re on the phone with someone and you feel like something is wrong, tell the person that you have to go and ask for their name, title and what number you can use to call the CRA back. If the number they give you isn’t on the official list of CRA telephone numbers, don’t use this number when calling back. Instead, call an official CRA phone number, tell them what happened, and ask if they can verify the situation.

In some cases, the scammer calling you won’t get off the phone easily. They might use threatening language to keep you on the phone. They might tell you that the situation needs to be resolved immediately or they might threaten to pass your case onto their manager if you don’t give them what they want right now. Ignore these threats. The CRA may be tough to deal with, but it doesn’t need situations resolved on the spot. Hang up the phone, call the CRA, and discuss the issue with an actual CRA agent.

If you are scammed, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre right away: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/

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