March is Fraud Prevention Month
There are many different frauds and scams, even more now with ease of global communications.
Throughout the year and especially during tax season, Canadians are being targeted. Under immense pressure from the person on the telephone, it may be difficult for taxpayers to realize that they are being manipulated as a victim of a scam. Email scams are also prevalent.
Here are some of the common “tax" scams and how to protect yourself.
The caller may request personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, bank account number, credit card information, or even your birthday. They may claim that you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA") or "Revenue Canada" and that if you do not pay IMMEDIATELY, they will send police to your home. They will tell you not to hang up the phone and will threaten you if you speak to anyone about this telephone call.
Be Aware: Do not provide personal information to any “agent” who phones you. When in doubt, hang up and phone back (Individual Enquiries line 1-800-959-8281) to verify that you are actually speaking with the CRA. Scammers have programmed their caller ID to show this phone number; however, they are not actually phoning from this number.
The CRA does NOT accept prepaid credit card or gift cards of any amount.
The CRA does NOT have the authority to send police to your door without going through legal proceedings.
The CRA does NOT use high-pressure tactics.
You receive an email that says that your tax refund is ready, and all you have to do is click the link to deposit your money.
Be Aware: While CRA will send you email to notify you that you have correspondence in your My Account with CRA (www.cra-arc.gc.ca/myaccount), they will NOT include a link. You have to independently visit the website and enter your information. You will only ever receive a link via email if you specifically speak to an agent on the phone and request one during your telephone call.
If you are set up for direct deposit, your money will automatically be deposited. There is no action required by you. If you are not set up for direct deposit, you will be mailed a cheque. Speak to your accountant or phone the CRA on the Individual Enquiries line (1-800-959-8281) as to how to be set up for direct deposit.
In summary, the best defense against fraudulent activities is to be vigilant and cautious. When in doubt, hang up the phone. Tell someone, and phone the CRA to verify that you actually received a call from them.
To report instances of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501 or your local police.