It is cropping up again, people claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency; contacting individuals and convincing them to give up personal information and funds using false accusations of investigations and warrants of arrest threats. Last year similar scams targeted many Canadians and adding up to 12,000 complaints in which nearly 1,000 people lost money totalling nearly $4.7 million.
What is happening:
This particular scam has existed for some time now, though there are new methods being employed, and it involves being contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of the CRA who declares that either an investigation has been launched on your account or that there is a lawsuit against you or even a warrant issued for your arrest. They will then demand that you give up personal information or even send funds in a particular manner. These messages can come in the form of phone calls, emails, or even text messages and can at first glance seem quite legitimate.
How to identify a scam:
This can sometimes be a difficult task but one easy way to identify a scam is to know that the CRA does not use text messages to contact its clients. Those can be immediately dismissed as a scam and reported.
Emails can also be checked against website addresses and checked for any strange requests for information or money.
Phone calls are also challenging; but a quick tip is that most legitimate financial organizations like banks or the CRA will not contact you to ask for personal or financial information.
What to Do:
If you think you are being contacted by a scam-artist or if you are concerned you may have fallen for a scam there are resources you can use. Firstly and most important is DO NOT PANIC. Remain calm and assess the situation.
If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency the CRA advise that if you are concerned about any emails or phone calls that you can always call to confirm at their official tax enquiries number 1-800-959-8281 or by logging into their website with your secure My Account login.
Also police request that you do not contact them; instead you should contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. This is the agency that collects information and criminal intelligence on fraud and identity theft complaints. They also have plenty of advice on how to handle fraud.
It is always okay to refuse to give your personal information until you have confirmed that you are not being scammed.
Image from CAFC; Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre logo.