Last July, the Canada Revenue Agency issued a press release urging Canadians to beware of an increase in CRA scams. Since this time, the CRA has continued to advise people to protect themselves against potential fraud. Over the last few years, the number of nefarious individuals attempting to trick hardworking Canadians has grown significantly, and as such, the CRA is taking action, warning citizens of the dangers these individuals pose.
The most recent escalation has come in the form of telephone calls. An individual will call you at home, claiming to be an agent, telling you that you owe a debt to the CRA. This is usually done in a threatening manner, these individuals using fear tactics in an effort to intimidate. The caller will request immediate payment, over the phone, using a credit card, or asking that you obtain a prepaid card to call back with the information right away.
The aggressive and forceful language used, as well as the tendency to threaten with court charges, jail or deportation, has led to a startling number of innocent Canadians falling prey to these CRA scams.
When it comes to CRA scams, here are some common red flags:
- will always issue a letter informing you of a debt – you will not receive a phone call prior to a letter being sent
- will never request payment by prepaid credit card
- will never ask for information about your passport, health card or driver’s licence
- will never share your information with a third party. No one will ever call ‘on the CRA’s behalf’ asking about a tax debt, at least not legitimately
- will never leave personal information on an answering machine, nor will they request you do the same
- will never threaten or use aggressive language (this goes against CRA standards and violates the taxpayer’s rights)
- will never request a check be made out to an individual. Cheques are to be made out to Her Majesty or the Minister
If you feel as though you may have received a call from someone attempting a CRA scam, but are still unsure, the CRA suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
- Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
- Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
- How did the requester get my email address or telephone number?
- Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
If you have any doubts whatsoever, hang up immediately and call the CRA back at the numbers found here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/cntct/phn-eng.html.
An important thing to remember when it comes to CRA scams is that, if news of a tax debt is hitting you unaware, and you were not made aware of it by official CRA correspondence, it is likely illegitimate. These scams can result in lost (often unrecoverable) funds and identity theft. Always protect yourself.
You can find out more about identifying potential CRA scams here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html.
If you do have a tax debt, ignoring the legitimate correspondence won’t make it go away.
Call Tax Solutions Canada today to discuss your options for relief or repayment: 1-888-868-1400.