The CRA Scams: What you Need to Know to Stay Safe

by Achieva Financial
Mar March 06

Tax season is upon us, so there has been an increase of fraudsters using CRA scams to try to con money out of Canadians. These scams can take many forms, and criminals use a variety of methods to get in touch with their targets:

  • You may get a call, email, text message, or letter claiming that you are owed a tax refund, and prompting you to provide personal information in order to receive it. They may try to get your bank account numbers, account passwords, or answers to your security questions in order to steal your identity or take funds out of your bank accounts.
  • Another variation of the scam involves fraudsters calling their target and aggressively demanding money by attempting to trick them into thinking they owe the CRA money. They may threaten to seize your assets or tell you the police are on their way to arrest you, and direct victims to purchase iTunes gift cards to “settle their debt”.

Marcus Kirouac, Internal Auditor at Cambrian Credit Union says that one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to get educated on different types of fraud. “The Competition Bureau and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are both great resources for information about common scams,” he says. The Competition Bureau publishes The Little Black Book of Scams, which is available on their website.

Kirouac also recommends using the buddy system to protect against fraud. “Have a family member or friend that you can discuss situations with before you take action on a call, email, text message or letter, or call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or even your financial institution for advice before taking action,” he says.

Another important thing to do when you receive an unexpected communication claiming to be from a company or organization is to verify the validity of the communication by going directly to the resource independently. When doing this check, do not click on any links in the emails or text messages. “It’s also important to remember that no legitimate company, organization or government agency will demand immediate payment from you without allowing you to independently verify what they are telling you and they will not demand payment in the form of iTunes gift cards,” Kirouac adds.

If you receive a scam call, text message, email or letter, the best thing to do is just not respond, and report any fraud attempts to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or your local police department.