By Nathalie Brault, CPA, CMA, CIRP, SAI
Recently, we asked our members:
“Have you received fraudulent calls involving the Canada Revenue Agency?”
We were surprised to discover that 84% of our members reported that they had seen this scam, which can be done by email, telephone or text message.
During tax season, be careful not to be fooled by this swindle since this is when these fraudsters are most active. They use two approaches, sometimes passing themselves off as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees but also sometimes as employees of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada:
- Individuals receive a message telling them that they qualify for a tax refund but to receive it they must provide their personal information, such as their name, address, social insurance number, credit card number, passport number, etc.
- Individuals receive a message saying that their taxes have been audited and that they must pay the balance owing to the tax office. The message stresses that they must pay the money owed immediately or they will be fined, and non-payment means that an arrest warrant will be issued.
Remember that the CRA does not threaten or use intimidating language to obtain payment of back taxes.
The CRA is not permitted to ask for personal information related to your passport or driver’s licence.
The CRA does not issue arrest warrants or deportation orders for non-payment of back taxes.
The CRA does not ask you to click on a link to provide your personal or financial information in an online form or to obtain a refund.
The CRA never communicates with taxpayers by text message.
As well, the CRA would not ask you to pay a tax debt with a prepaid credit card, in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or through gift cards (iTunes, Amazon or something else).
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 59,694 complaints of CRA-related fraud between 2016 and 2018. The 8,211 victims who came forward lost a total of $13.4 million.
But the challenge is that it is estimated that only 5% of victims will file a complaint with authorities.
Police recommend the following approach if you believe you are a victim of such a scam:
- If in doubt: Hang up!
- Contact the CRA to confirm your tax situation — you can access your file online.
- If you believe you are a victim of this type of scam, report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
- If you have made any payment, contact the police.
In February 2019, the RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued news releases to advise the population that some illegal call centres in India had been dismantled. This mass marketing fraud had been perpetrated by criminal groups in various places in India. Nonetheless, the RCMP does not have the authority to act as it would like as far as making arrests in India.
As a result, the RMCP has been looking for leads or other information about those responsible for this scam in Canada and abroad. The RCMP needs the public’s help to bring about the arrest of these criminals.
Individuals who fall prey to this scam also risk becoming victims of identity theft, so be on the lookout and notify the proper authorities!