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How to Avoid Tax Time Scams About the CRA
It’s tax time again. If you are like others, you may feel overwhelmed by the process. Sadly, scammers are aware of this and take advantage of people's fears by trying to steal money and gain unauthorized access to personal data and financial details. The Canada Revenue Agency has seen a dramatic increase in the sophistication of scam attempts, so it is essential that you learn the difference between legitimate communication and a scam from the CRA. The best way to protect yourself from potential fraud is by learning the signs.
Criminals are impersonating the CRA via phone, email, text, messaging apps, and even by mail. Scammers have been able to leverage the increasing prevalence of technology in our daily lives by creating more convincing scams, making it important to stay vigilant on how to spot and avoid CRA scams.
Fortunately, the CRA has some clear guidelines on how they communicate with Canadians. If you know the basics, you will be able to effectively tell what a scam is and what is not.
Six things to know about how the CRA contacts Canadians
The scams outlined have elements in common — criminals are looking to imitate the CRA to trick Canadians, especially vulnerable people, into paying fraudulent fees or divulging sensitive information. With a little bit of knowledge, you can help stay one step ahead of the bad guys. To recap:
- The CRA will never use text messages or instant messages to start a conversation with you about your taxes, benefits, refund, or account.
- The CRA will never ask you for personal or financial information via text or email.
- The CRA does not accept payment in the form of cryptocurrency, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards.
- CRA employees will not use aggressive language, issues threats of arrest, or send law enforcement.
- The CRA will never recommend that you apply for benefits on the spot
- CRA employees will identify themselves with their name and employee number and give you a phone number to call back if needed.
What to do if you believe you have been the victim of a scam
If you suspect that you have fallen prey to a scam or have disclosed personal information to a scammer, take immediate action and report it.
- Report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website and follow the reporting procedure.
- Inform your local law enforcement agency, financial institutions, and relevant credit bureaus.
- If you suspect any unauthorized changes to your banking, address, personal or business information, or a benefits application has been made without your knowledge, contact the CRA at either of these numbers. For personal inquiries, call 1-800-959-8281. For businesses, call 1-800-959-5525.
Scammers can be extremely convincing, and they often rely on people's anxiety and fear to extract money and personal information. However, by following the tips outlined in this article, you can stay vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud.
You should also contact our office immediately so we can help.
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