Tax season is stressful. Unfortunately, tax scammers make the tax season even more stressful.
Canadian taxpayers need to be cautious when dealing with so-called emails, texts, or phone calls coming from the CRA.
You need to be vigilant if someone asks you to verify your personal information by providing them with your social insurance number, bank account information, credit card numbers, or even passport numbers. These are all scams designed to steal your money and identity.
How to Recognize Scams
While the Canada Revenue Agency has made a number of high-profile arrests of fake CRA communities overseas, that hasn’t really slowed the CRA scammers down.
To protect yourself, it’s important to be able to distinguish communication from the CRA and that of a tax scam.
CRA may contact you to ask questions about your taxes, verify personal information, or even begin an audit. They may ask you to verify your identify, asking for your full name, date of birth, address, or social insurance number.
The CRA will not employ high pressure tactics to get you to provide your passport number, health card, or driver’s license.
The CRA will also not demand immediate payment in the form of bitcoin, prepaid credit cards, e-transfer, or gift cards from retailers like Amazon or iTunes.
On top of that, the CRA will not leave hostile voicemails or use intimidating language and threaten to send the police over to your residence and take you to jail.
First off, the CRA will not contact you through a text or instant message such as WhatsApp or Facebook. The CRA does not use these methods to communicate with Canadian taxpayers.
If you receive a text or instant message from the CRA, delete it. It’s a scam.
The CRA could send you an email telling you when a new document or a notice of assessment or reassessment is ready. They will direct you to a secure CRA portal.
The CRA could also send you an email with a link to a form or publication on the CRA website. But, they will only do this if you ask for it during a phone conversation with the CRA. This is actually the only time the CRA will ever send an email with a link.
What the CRA will not do through email is ask you to click on an unsolicited link or ask you to fill out an online form looking for personal or financial details.
Nor will you ever receive an email with a convenient link for you to click to get your refund.
And, like the telephone, they will never email you looking for immediate payment by e-transfer, bitcoin, or prepaid credit cards.
You could receive mail from the CRA asking you for information, such as the name of your bank. They could also send a notice of assessment or reassessment and ask you to make a payment through approved channels.
The CRA could even use the mail to initiate legal action to recover any money if you refuse to pay your taxes. Moreover, the CRA uses the mail to tell you it’s starting an audit process.
The CRA will not send you something in the mail asking you to meet up with them in person to take payment, or demand immediate payment, or threaten to take you to jail.
How to Protect Yourself
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from fake CRA communities and CRA email scams.
- Never give your personal information over the Internet or by email.
- Protect your passwords, access codes, and PIN.
- Be careful of clicking on any email links. An email scam could send you to a website that looks like the official CRA site. Again, the CRA will never send a link in an email.
- Shred unwanted or unneeded documents.
- Only use a professional tax expert you trust.
FBC – Helping You Prepare Your Taxes Accurately and On Time
Filing your taxes can be stressful. The idea that your personal information could fall into the hands of CRA tax scammers can be even more stressful.
Outsourcing your tax preparation and tax filing to the tax experts at FBC can take the stress out of tax season, ensure your personal financial information is safe, and keep tax scammers at bay.
Since 1952, the tax professionals at FBC have worked exclusively with small business owners, farm operators, self-employed contractors, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs, prepare and file their annual taxes accurately and on time.
For more information on FBC and the services we offer, call us today at 1-800-265-1002 or submit an online form and an FBC tax specialist will contact you at your earliest convenience.