inFocus: Tax Season…or Scam Season?

Date: March, 2016 fraudster holding a laptop in darkness. concept for scam and fraud.

It’s the height of tax season, and that means Canadians are shifting focus to getting their personal tax returns sent to the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”), if they have not done so already. During annual tax preparations, most Canadians expect some correspondence from the CRA— more so than any other part of the year.

Consequently, fraudsters often exploit this expectation during tax season to deceive taxpayers into disclosing valuable personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.

Here are some tips, so you can avoid falling prey to these brazen scams.

Two prevalent scams are:

  • Telemarketing scams: Fraudsters attempt to gain an individual’s personal information by pretending to be a CRA agent, calling the individual over the phone and using aggressive or coercive tactics such as threatening arrest if a “debt” is not paid.
  • Email scams: Fraudsters send fairly convincing emails that appear to be from the CRA. These emails could contain threatening content intended to scare the recipient into paying fictitious “debts,” or direct them to a malicious website where they are then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information.

What you should know:

  • The CRA will never send emails containing a link or ask you to divulge personal or financial information via a link. Exception: You call the CRA to request a form or a link, and the CRA agent potentially sends you an email with the specific information you requested while you remain on the phone with them – this is the only situation in which the CRA may send an email containing a link.
  • The CRA will never ask for personal information of any kind by email or text message.
  • The CRA will never request payments by prepaid credit cards.
  • The CRA will not give taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
  • The CRA will never leave personal information on an answering machine.
  • Criminals can falsify and tamper with Caller ID – never rely solely on the display information to confirm the identity of a caller. This is a ploy in recent scams.

If you ever receive a call from someone claiming that you owe an amount to the CRA, you should always hang up and call the CRA back at 1-800-959-8281. Alternatively, you can contact your Crowe Soberman advisor.

If you ever receive an email claiming to be from the CRA, do not click on any of the links or attachments in the email. Delete the message from your inbox and then delete it again from your deleted items folder.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding fraudulent communications, please contact your Crowe Soberman advisor.

This article has been prepared for the general information of our clients. Specific professional advice should be obtained prior to the implementation of any suggestion contained in this article.

Connect with the Author

Ali Toyserkani, CPA, CA, Specialist – Tax

Connect with Ali at 416.963.7211 or ali.toyserkani@crowesoberman.com.

 Click here to download a copy of this article (PDF).

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