Beware of scams

Income tax time is here again; and so is the Canada Revenue Agebcy scam. Again.

The Vernal Equinox is still ten days away, but already the unmistakable signs of spring are in the air. The robins have returned and are building their nests; the street sweeper has been out cleaning grit from the roads (so another heavy snowfall is surely imminent; don’t put your snow shovels away just yet); bushes are being pruned and trees cut back; gardeners are tending to their seedlings; and scam artists are once again trying to defraud people of money.

Yes, spring and income tax season mean that fraud artists are out in full force, preying on the innocent to make a fast buck. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam is doing the rounds once more, its agents hoping that the mere utterance of the words “Canada Revenue Agency” will frighten people into giving up valuable personal information and/or money.

The scam began in 2013, and has shown no signs of abating; the author has had at least three such calls in the last month. The phone calls begin pleasantly enough, with the friendly caller identifying himself as being employed by the CRA. This friendliness should be a tip-off that something’s wrong; anyone who has ever had dealings with the “real” CRA will know that being friendly is not something that’s in their wheelhouse (businesslike bordering on curt is more the order of the day).

However, the phone call rapidly goes beyond pleasantries. The victim is informed that he or she is in trouble with the CRA; they have neglected to file taxes, or have made an error on their tax return. The bottom line is always that money—often a substantial amount—is owed, with the caller asking for bank or credit card details to settle the “debt”.

Any attempt by the recipient of the call to dispute the charge is met with threats: the police will be called, or jail time might be the result, or a social insurance number might be blacklisted, or CRA agents might show up at the victim’s door (which sounds like one of the least-threatening threats ever: “I’m Bill from the CRA, and this is my friend Stephanie, and you really don’t want to make us mad.”). Still, a surprising number of people have been gulled into believing the calls are genuine, and have lost substantial sums of money as a result.

The Canada Revenue Agency rarely phones people if they are in arrears, or if there is a problem with a return; they send very official-looking letters. The CRA will not ask you to give them a credit card or bank account number to settle a debt; terms of repayment (if that is necessary) will be negotiated with you. In the rare case that the CRA has occasion to phone people, they will act with professionalism and courtesy; no threats will be used.

So if you receive one of these scam calls, do what the author does; hang up as soon as the magic words “Canada Revenue Agency” are uttered. Your bank account will thank you.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read