The RCMP has issued a warning about the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam, so that Canadians can be aware that it is still costing victims millions of dollars.
The CRA scam comes in many forms: over the phone, by email, or by text message. In all cases, the caller or sender poses as an agent from the Canada Revenue Agency in an attempt to gather personal information, or intimidate a victim into providing financial payment.
Many of the phone callers can become quite aggressive or abusive in their attempt to coerce victims into paying. The caller will claim one of several possibilities: that you owe money to the CRA and will be arrested if you do not pay immediately; that a lawsuit has been filed against you by the CRA; that a warrant of arrest has already been issued under your name; that you will be deported if you do not pay the money demanded; and other similar dire threats to get you to share your personal tax information and/or pay money.
In other cases, an email or text message is sent from someone pretending to be with the CRA. These messages will claim that your tax calculation has been completed, and you will receive a tax refund by going through a link and submitting information; that you or your company is being accused of participating in tax evasion schemes; that discrepancies have been found with your filed taxes; that you’ve received an e-transfer from the CRA for what appears to be a tax refund; or that an “investigation” has been started on your CRA claim.
If you receive a phone call purporting to come from the CRA, hang up if there is anything suspicious or unprofessional about it. The CRA will never threaten you with immediate arrest, use abusive language, or send police.
The CRA will also never request a payment by Interac e-transfer, online currency such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards, or pre-paid gift cards. The CRA’s accepted methods of payment are online banking, debit card, credit card, or PayPal through a third-party service provider and pre-authorized debit.
Do not click on any link in an email pretending to be from the CRA. The CRA does not send text messages; any text you receive that claims to come from the CRA is a scam.
Young people are often the most at risk to this scam, particularly when filing their taxes for the first time. If you are not sure if a message is from the CRA, confirm it with the CRA through a CRA secure portal such as My Account or by calling 1-800-959-8281. File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.
The RCMP strongly suggest that victims of the CRA scam report the incident. If you have sent money or transferred money or goods to a scammer, the police and financial institutions need to be aware in order to properly investigate, recover stolen funds and/or goods (if possible), and work towards preventing further criminal activity. Reporting scams also helps fraud authorities to warn other people about current scams, monitor trends, and disrupt scams where possible.