As the April 30 tax deadline quickly approaches, Canadians are learning once again that it’s more than just the government who’s after their money.
Canadians across the country are reporting that they’ve been receiving either calls or emails from people who claim to work with the CRA, who then try to scare them into handing over some serious coin. The calls and emails almost always involve a threat. For example, someone might call you saying you owe back taxes and if you don’t pay now, an arrest warrant will be issued in your name. Or they might say the CRA is filing a lawsuit against you.
While those might seem like obvious scams when you read them here, they may not seem so obvious in the heat of the moment. Five people in Windsor, Ont. were already conned out of $56,000, and the Better Business Bureau reports that tax scams were among the biggest scams in all of 2015. Remember that these crooks will do anything they can to seem legit, including sending their emails using CRA letterhead.
Fortunately, there are always red flags to watch out for. To help you weed out the real from the fake, here are things the CRA will never do:
- Threaten you or use nasty language
- Request payment by prepaid credit card
- Ask for personal information by email
- Leave personal information on a voicemail
- Share your tax information with other people
In other words, the CRA would never call you and use an arrest warrant to scare you into paying your taxes. But if you ever receive a suspicious call and aren’t quite sure if it’s legit, there is one surefire way to know for sure: simply hang up the phone. That’s right, the second you get suspicious, hang up the phone and then call the CRA yourself using the number posted on its website. That is the only way you can know for sure that you are speaking with someone who is actually with the agency.
If you’ve received a call or email from the CRA that you believe is fraudulent, you can flag it with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Hopefully, those crooks will get the jail time they deserve as a result.
You can learn more about the various tax-related scams in the video above.