March is ‘Fraud Prevention Month’, and since Canadians in full swing of tax season, you could be vulnerable to some common tax scams.
Common tax scams involve the fraudsters posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and they will attempt to contact you online or by phone, so it’s important to understand what to look for.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The CRA will never contact you by phone or email. The first thing to be aware of, is that CRA never contacts consumers by phone or email, they will always use registered mail. If someone calls you from CRA, this is a fraudster. On another note, always keep communications you receive from CRA in the mail, for your records.
- Always call to check. If you receive communication from CRA claiming that you owe back taxes or have a refund due, the best thing to do is call CRA directly to confirm this.
- CRA will never request certain information from you such as a request to pay payments via prepaid credit cards. The CRA will also never ask for any personal information via email or text messages.
- Never provide personal information on an inbound phone call, or leave personal information on an answering machine. Ask who is calling, document it and do your homework. You should also never provide any personal information online through an insecure site, and never over email.
If you’re unsure, keep in mind:
- Did I sign up to receive online mail through CRA or a tax service?
- Did I provide my email address on my income tax and benefit return to receive mail online?
- Am I expecting more money from the CRA?
- Does this sound too good to be true?
- Is the requester asking for information I would not provide in my tax return?
- Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
If you think you’ve fallen victim to tax fraud:
- If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equifax and TransUnion to place fraud alerts on your account.
- If you’ve shared banking information with a fraudster, contact your financial institution right away.
- Report fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, you can also report to the Better Business Bureau.
For more information on the CRA and tax fraud prevention, please visit their website.