As tax season is winding up (and has worn me down considerably), it is a good time to remind people of the ever evolving CRA Scam here in Canada.
For those who don’t know the scammers are posing as our lovely people at the Canada Revenue Agency. They call and email citizens claiming that they owe the CRA back taxes and convince people that they need to pay. Also that they accept iTunes cards as payment. Last time I checked iTunes cards were not considered legal tender.
Since people probably don’t want to read the whole thing below here are the main points:
1. Do not give your Social Insurance Number or banking/credit card information over the phone.
2. If anything is owing to CRA they WILL NOT ask if you have a lawyer. HANG UP if you are asked this or if you are told there is a warrant for your arrest.
3. CRA advises of payments outstanding in WRITING, in the MAIL. They won’t call you or email you to request payment.
4. Call the CRA directly at 1-800-959-8281 , sign up for the CRA MyAccount, go to your local CRA office (if you live nearby) or if you have an accountant they can look into it for you (let’s hope they won’t bill you for it).
I know that people are afraid when these people call but you can just HANG UP on them. Do not give them the power, you have the power. It’s ok because you do have tools at your disposal to shut these people down, more on that later but right now just some common sense.
1. Do not freely give your SIN (Social Insurance Number) to them, this will most certainly lead to identity theft. That’s if you engage with them (which I hope you don’t).
2. If they ask if you have a lawyer HANG UP. There is never a warrant out for your arrest. CRA will always garnish your wages, up to 30% of your income, if you are in that deep with them. But of course CRA is nicer and will send a letter to contact you to make payment arrangements prior to that happening.
3. Screen your calls, if you do not recognize the number DO NOT answer. Pretty sure these people do not leave a message. But make note of the number that pops up so you can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
4. Ask them for their ID number. If they do not provide then HANG UP or tell them you have to go to the bathroom or pray for their soul.
Helpful resources to keep around:
1. Take note of your tax centre, one that sends you mail correspondence. Look up their phone number, that is where CRA should be calling you from. Yes their number will come up on your call display. If you do owe money they will always issue WRITTEN correspondence.
2. Sign up for the CRA MyAccount Service, this will give you your up to date account balance. Or call the automated inquires line at 1-800-959-8281
My big message here is…. If someone calls states they are from the CRA and call from a number that is not in the vicinity of your tax centre HANG UP. Then call the CRA directly at 1-800-959-8281 to verify if that was actually them calling.