Tax season is fast approaching, but there may be more to worry about than filing on time. This is the time of year when the Canada Revenue Agency scam is more prevalent.
“We have to be really on top of our game at this time,” said Det. Keith Calderwood with Peterborough Police Service. “The scam runs all year, but now is the time we are filing taxes and we are thinking about our returns so we may be more likely to believe a scammer.”
It starts with a phone call, when someone says you owe money to the CRA. Calderwood said the person will often use aggressive language or threaten immediate arrest if you don’t pay up. Some will pressure you to purchase gift cards to settle your debt.
“So many people just feel threatened by that and want to make things right,” he said. “They don’t want to go to jail so they go out and purchase these gift cards.”
As a reminder, the Canada Revenue Agency won’t:
- ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence
- demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
- use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police
- leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information
Calderwood said scammers might also say you are getting money back to gain access to your personal information.
The Canada Revenue Agency scam alone has cost Peterborough area residents more than $700,000 in the past four years.
Investigators say that number is likely closer to $7 million.
“People are often hesitant or embarrassed to come forward if they’ve fallen victim,” said Calderwood. “With scams, 10 times the (amount of) reported incidents is believed to be a more accurate representation.”
Calderwood said if you receive a call and suspect it is a scam, hang up and report it to police.