With tax season approaching, be vigilant for tax-related fraud calls and scams.
I would like to highlight some of the common fraud scams circulating around tax season and red flags to look for.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) refund text- You may receive an unsolicited text from CRA stating your refund is waiting, all you have to do is click on the link in the text. CRA will never text a link for you to get a refund OR access their site. This is a Phishing scam, its an attempt to have you enter your personal details, or bank details, which is captured by criminals on the other end of the text. IF YOU RECEIVE A TEXT FROM ANY COMPANY ASKING FOR INFORMATION, CALL THE COMPANY USING A VERIFIED PHONE NUMBER, NOT THE ONE PROVIDED IN THE TEXT/ EMAIL AND SPEAK TO THEM DIRECTLY.
CRA enforcement branch arrest warrant- This is similar to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) warrant scam, which threatens you with arrest for unpaid taxes. CRA will not call you and threaten arrest for unpaid back taxes or tax fraud, ever. This is an attempt to have you transfer money, which you don’t owe. If you receive this call, hang up. if your concerned about owing money, log into your “my CRA account” online or call them directly by using the phone number on their website.
Credit card calls- You may receive a call from Mastercard/ Visa/ Amex etc saying your card is compromised, asking for your personal details by phone or have you log into a website. The credit card company will not call you, you would receive a call from your financial institution, for example, PC Mastercard, TD Visa etc. Consider it a red flag if they ask what company your card is with. If they are calling you, they should know this. This, like the scams outlined above, it’s an effort to have you provide or enter your details into a fraudulent site. In some circumstances they are requesting a transfer of money to pay off what is owed to prevent arrest, or personal credit issues. Hang up and call your credit card company at a verified number.
Very few, if any legitimate business will call you and request personal information. If you receive a call ask for a case number/ ticket number or reference number, then hang up and call the business back. DO NOT USE A NUMBER THEY PROVIDE, always get a verified number to call them back.
CRA/ credit card companies do not accept payment with Google play cards, Bitcoin or other types of electronic money. They accept cash, credit card and payments online.
For unsolicited service calls such as hydro, water and gas, ask for the area code they are calling from and once they give that to you, ask what city that is from. This often will result in them hanging up on you, as it’s a scam. If the information about the area code checks out, ask for a ticket/ reference number and call them back at a verified number.
A legitimate business will understand you are taking precautions and will not pressure you into continuing the phone call. A scam caller will pressure you, and threaten you to attempt to gain compliance.
If it seems to good to be true, it is. You cannot get rich in five days doing nothing, a prince in a far way land did not leave you millions of dollars, CRA did not discover they owed you $10 000 which can only be accessed for 24 hours via a strange text link.
We all work very hard for what we have, the scammers work equally hard trying to take your money. I understand none of us have extra time in our day, but when it comes to finances and your personal information, slow things down, call the company directly, even if it means waiting on hold. The damage that can be done to you both financially and long term by way of credit score could take years to rectify.
To learn more about scams and how to protect yourself, go to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre.