Tips to Detect CRA Phone Scams

In the past several years Jones & O’Connell LLP has had an increasing number of clients contact us concerned after receiving phone calls and letters from people claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Upon discussing the situation with clients, it sometimes becomes clear that they were the target of fraud.

For someone who does not regularly interact with the CRA, it can be difficult to detect these scams, particularly the more sophisticated ones.

The frauds that we have witnessed and read about usually fall into 4 categories:

  • Emails requesting you follow a link to access information about your tax return/refund
    • While most people know not to click on suspicious links, many of these emails contain addresses nearly identical to the CRA’s official site.  The CRA does not normally communicate through email unless you have requested them to and any time you need to access their site you can start on www.cra-arc.gc.ca and access information through the links provided there.
  • Emails claiming that they want to send your payment using money transfer
    • These emails may appear to have been sent by the CRA or possibly your bank.  The CRA sends refunds through direct deposit or cheque based on the information provided on your tax return.  These emails may direct you to an equally official looking site which will attempt to gain your banking information to assist with the alleged deposit.
  • Emails or phone calls asking for personal information not related to your tax return
    • These scams are attempts to steal your identity.  They may seem reasonable at first because they are requesting information to verify your identity.  Just like you, the CRA receives calls from people claiming to be someone else so the CRA normally asks a few questions to determine you are who you say you are.  The CRA will normally ask you to confirm information that was on your tax return including your address or a number from your last notice of assessment.  They will never ask for non tax information such as passport information, health card, drivers licence or banking information.
  • Phone calls demanding payment
    • These scams range from preposterous to deceptive depending on the knowledge of the caller.  Some callers even change their caller ID to appear more legitimate.  Many of the phone calls start out civil and may even have that government “tone” that we expect in these interactions.  Eventually they will want something from you and if you don’t provide it they can change to a more threatening tone.  In an attempt to scare you many callers give clues that it is a fraud.  The CRA will never threaten you with immediate arrest or jail time, and they will also never threaten to release your information to the public.  Also note the CRA will never leave phone messages with personal information.  These scams often request for payment to be made through prepaid debit cards, gift cards or bit coin; the CRA will never ask for payment using these methods.  If you do owe money but suspect your phone call was a fraud you can contact the CRA general inquirers line at 1-800-959-8281 and they will provide you the contact information to the individual handling your collection.

 

The official CRA website has more useful information on the topic and can be accessed here:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html

If you ever need assistance with the CRA and determining if a communication is legitimate, we are happy to help.  At Jones & O’Connell LLP, we have access to represent all our tax clients and are able to communicate with the CRA on their behalf.


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.
 
 

Posted: Monday, June 12th, 2017 | Categories: Commentary.

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