PENTICTON – Every year, thousands of Canadians are victims of scams, and as tax season gets underway it’s no different. This particular scam pretends to be the Canada Revenue Agency — asking for sensitive personal information, in an attempt to steal your identity.
“They can be a number of different types,” says Dave Morgan of the Canada Revenue Agency. “It could be email, phishing, it could can be telephone or letters.”
In some cases, the emailer tells the recipient they’re about about to receive an Interac transfer from Revenue Canada and requests banking information. Other say you might be part of a “possible tax evasion fraud” and in order to clear it, you need to complete and email a revised tax form with your personal information.
‘Are you expecting something from the CRA? Is the information being requested the sort of info you would send to CRA with your tax form? And lastly if you get an email, how did they get your email address?” asks Morgan. “Certainly that’s not something you would provide on your tax return.”
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, last year there were just under 100 victims of this CRA scam, totaling about $10,000. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story as only a fraction of the victims – in some cases – one in 20 report these incidents.
Accounting Firms like Kemp Harvey Kemp Inc. say their clients rarely encounter CRA scams but other tax-related schemes — like donating to bogus charities — have become increasingly common.
“There just seems to be this culture of fraud of people trying to make an easy buck,” says Terry Craig, a partner at Kemp Harvey Kemp. “We always have to be very careful regarding SIN numbers, privacy info, and we’re very careful about who we give out info to because once somebody has a SIN there’s alot people can do.”
Craig says the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to call your accountant or the Canada Revenue Agency.
One sure way to know whether an email is valid or not – CRA will never ask for your personal information electronically.