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It’s Tax Time: Watch Out for Those Pesky CRA Scams!

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Tax season is well and truly upon us. However, it doesn’t just mean that local businesses need to go over the books and do some number-crunching; Canada Revenue Agency scams are all too common. Every year, individuals and organizations masking their identities fleece more Canadians for finances, identities, social insurance numbers and more. Worse still, it’s getting easier and easier to fall for their tactics, which are continually being improved on to appear more convincing.

That said, there are still telltale signs of tax scams that you ought to be aware of. Let’s go over them, and don’t forget to also consult the CRA website for further details and official tips.

The CRA Will Never Ask for Confidential Information

Many individuals fall for CRA scams asking for passport information, social insurance numbers and the like because there are other rare circumstances where they may be needed, such as when sponsoring a spouse in a secure government portal. However, this is an entirely unrelated process, so it is important to remember that the CRA will never request such confidential data outside of perhaps the tax forms themselves. The same principle applies to credit card or sensitive banking information.

They Will Only Contact You in Specific Circumstances

In line with our previous point, you should also beware any methods of contact that ask for personal information. Many times, scammers use this tactic under the guise that it is required in order to receive a refund or benefit payment. This is a lie. There are only certain instances when the CRA may need specific details from you, and never by text. You should never feel threatened or pressured.

The CRA may call you, but only for the following:

  • To verify your identity by asking for basic personal information.
  • To request specific details about your account in the case of a business enquiry.
  • Alternatively, they may phone to begin an audit process.

You’ll only receive an email from the CRA if:

  • They need to notify you about a new message in your account on their secure portal
  • They need to provide you with a link you requested during a phone call (the only time they will send a link).

These are the only legitimate reasons the CRA will contact you by mail:

  • Requests for the name of your bank and its location.
  • Notices of assessment or reassessment.
  • Payment requests for amounts owing through authorized CRA payment options.
  • Letters of a legal nature to secure owed funds or begin an audit process.

Examine the Text of Suspicious Emails

Scammers are going to great lengths to replicate the appearance and “personality” of the CRA. However, if you receive an email with any links other than those you personally requested over the phone, it’s a fake and should be reported as spam. If you don’t receive an email with a link but still believe it to be fraudulent, take a good look at the body text, especially the signature. Check to see if there are any typos, factual errors or grammatical mistakes, as well as whether the sender’s email address is actually from a legitimate CRA account. If you’re unsure, call the CRA to speak with a representative.

Avoid Fake Websites

It’s easy to mistake a fake website as the official CRA website one, especially when scammers are getting more meticulous about the smaller details. However, these are almost always domains that expire after a timed period – a way for them to cover their tracks. Additionally, any pixelated imagery, formatting errors and mistakes in the writing (especially in the header, footer and domain at the top) are huge red flags. Again, the best thing to do is stick to the official website and never stray from it.

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam this tax season, don’t feel guilty. Manipulative groups and individuals are getting smarter, and careful investigation is required when handling a fraud case. Be sure to immediately contact the CRA for guidance, which typically involves contacting Equifax, TransUnion and your bank to protect your identity and financial security.

About the Author:

Whitney Joy Smith is the owner of the Smith investigation agency National Private Investigations firm. Whitney has been in the investigations and repossession industry for over 15 years. Whitney’s drives to bring a new standard to the investigative industry and a new level of integrity. Whitney loves working with her community, staff and others in the industry to make sure the standard becomes possible.