It’s a warm summer day. You’re relaxing in the yard and wondering what could possibly make this day better. And then, out of the blue, you receive an e-mail from Canada Revenue Agency stating that they’ve discovered they owe you money! Could this be true? Or, do you need to wake up and smell the coffee . . . .? There are two scams in particular to brief your clients about: Refund and Collection Scams.
Refund Scams. Even though hundreds of millions of individuals use e-mail daily, CRA does not. So it’s pretty much guaranteed that the e-mail you just received asking for your banking information so that CRA can deposit the funds into your account, is not legitimate. In fact, when you go to check that the funds have been deposited, you will find that you have become a victim and all your funds are gone.
While scams like this are not new and have been happening probably as long as there has been e-mail, they seem to have been especially aggressive this year; CRA currently lists 22 variations of e-mail scams1 that are being used to extract money from your clients fraudulently.
In addition to e-mail schemes, scammers also use text messages, online form submissions and, in some cases, good old snail mail!
So, a key tax literacy message for your clients is this: CRA does not communicate with taxpayers by electronic means outside of the “My Account” and “My Business Account” portals on their website.
Collection Scams. Reports of telephone calls purportedly from CRA Collections have been making the news recently. According to the CRA newsroom, these calls are very aggressive in nature and go as far as threatening court charges, jail or deportation. The caller demands immediate payment by credit card and, if no credit card exists, demands the immediate purchase of a prepaid credit card.
So what should your clients do if they receive one of these types of communications? CRA recommends that anyone potentially the victim of a fraud ask themselves these questions:
Remember, you can always turn the tables. Ask the caller for the amount on line 150 of your latest tax return. If they can’t or won’t answer that question, they are not from CRA.
If you or your clients have received suspected fraudulent communications from someone, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll-free at 1-888-495-8501.