It’s tax time, and scam artists are busy harassing innocent and unsuspecting taxpayers. They ramp up their efforts every year around this time, calling people and claiming that they are from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), (or from the IRS if you’re in the US), with a badge number and everything – even the caller ID says it’s the CRA. They are calling and asking for personal information – like name and address, saying you owe money, and demanding payment on the phone immediately or you will be visited by the police who are sitting outside your house. These scam artists are becoming more ruthless and sophisticated.
So What Do You Do When You Receive A Call From Someone Claiming To Be A CRA Agent?
- Don’t Panic.
- DO NOT give them any information – don’t even confirm your name.
- HANG UP…or, if you want to play their game a bit, get as much as you can about the caller (still not disclosing any of your information to them), and report the caller to the local police department (perhaps even say something like “I’m actually on the other line with a police officer right now, and he’d like to speak with you” – the scammer may just hang up.)
- Call police or the anti-fraud department and report the call.
- If you are concerned about your tax account, contact CRA directly at one of the numbers listed on their website (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/cntct/phn-eng.html#h1), or if your are registered for My Account, login via http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/myaccount/ and view your account details yourself.
- NEVER give your personal, bank or credit card information over the phone to someone who has called you looking for payment, unless you know the person. This type of scam happens in the guise of charity canvassing as well.
- Similar scams are being conducted via email as well, as a request, or as a notice saying you have received an e-transfer from CRA – CRA WILL NOT SEND YOU YOUR REFUND VIA ETRANSFER (they pay by cheque or direct deposit only), and they will not send you any request via email. If you have registered with the CRA for email notification about your tax return, you will receive an email telling you to go to My Account (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/myaccount/) to see the details of the notice.
Be aware that the CRA WILL NOT CALL YOU directly for information or payment. If they need information, they will send you a letter to which you have to respond within 30 days in writing (or submit through My Account). If you owe them money, they will send you a statement. Again, you can view these details online if you are set up with My Account (which I highly recommend).
If you have a specific tax or business question you want answered, or would like assistance with your return, feel free to send me a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about current tax scams, here are some helpful links:
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article has been written in general terms and is provided as broad guidance only. It is neither a definitive analysis of the law nor intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, advisory, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service . The application of laws and regulations may vary depending on specific facts or circumstances. Readers should discuss their specific situations with their professional advisors. Linda Spencer, CPA/CA does not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this article or for any decision based on it.