CRA income tax phishing scam still going strong, police warn

The Canada Revenue Agency headquarters in Ottawa is pictured on November 4, 2011. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Police in Ontario are still being flooded with calls after warning the public last month of the so-called Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) phishing scam.

Ontario Provincial Police said the scam, which is running “rampant” throughout the province has bogged down provincial communications centres with calls from the public informing officers of the scam.

The CRA scams began emerging in 2013 and have since become a popular tool for defrauding people over the phone or by email.

READ MORE: Calgary woman defrauded out of almost $20k in iTunes CRA scam

In the phone scam, someone claiming to be from the CRA calls and, in a conversation that starts out calmly enough, tells the potential victim that they have made an error on their tax return or neglected to file it. The phone number may seem legitimate to those with caller ID, police have warned. The fraudster then asks for financial or banking information in order to settle an alleged debt to the government.

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More recently, scammers have requested potential victims to pay off their “debt” with iTunes gift cards.

“Some of our communications centres are receiving upwards to 100 or more calls per day from people wanting to advise that they received one of these scam-related calls,” Sgt. Peter Leon said in a statement. “And although your intentions are appreciated, it is these calls which are at times restricting the OPP’s ability to take calls for service from the public that require a police response.”

CRA scams tend to get worse right before, during and immediately after Canadians file their tax returns each spring. Fraudsters have also used legitimate-looking emails, sending a notice of a tax refund and then asking for personal information in order to collect the money.

READ MORE: CRA scam dupes Burnaby woman out of $8k

On July 4, a Reddit user posted a screenshot of an apparent CRA scam email he received saying he was eligible for a tax refund.

“We have received your tax calculation and we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 214.17$” the email reads.

Both the OPP and CRA are asking people to report scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is aware of email scams where the sender claims to be from the CRA but is not, and is asking Canadians to beware—these are phishing and other fraudulent scams and could result in identity and financial theft,” a CRA spokesperson said in a statement.

READ MORE: Ontario woman defrauded of more than $12K in iTunes gift cards in CRA scam

Here are some recommendations from the CRA regarding phishing scams.

The CRA will not do the following:

-Send an email with a link and ask you to divulge personal or financial information.
-Ask for personal information of any kind by email or text message.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

-Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
-Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
-How did the requester get my email address or telephone number?
-Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?

You can report scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

with a file from Monique Muise

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