Online tax filing opens up on Feb. 21, and while online filing is generally considered faster and more convenient, according to the BBB, it also “widens the net of opportunity for scam artists.”
Canadians should watch out for phishing emails with “malicious links,” and fake Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) websites or calls asking for personal information, the BBB wrote in a news release. Taxpayers should also beware of any non-traditional methods of communication such as texts or social media messages.
“In these scams, imposters go to great lengths to appear real, for example, they may provide a fake badge number and name or have their caller ID appear to be from Ottawa or a CRA unit, cloak emails to look like official websites and much more,” the BBB said in the release.
On its website, the CRA notes that it’s possible its staff could call Canadians to discuss their tax and benefit situations.
Possible reasons for calls include money owed to the CRA, missing tax returns, and questions about new business registration, submitted tax and benefit documents, or corporate returns.
Real CRA agents are prepared to verify their identities, the CRA writes, and the public is encouraged to ask for the caller’s name, phone number and office location. Residents can then search that phone number online to check its legitimacy, and call the CRA agent back to discuss the reason for the call.
Red flags that the call may be illegitimate include pressure from the caller to act now, requests for information unrelated to a tax return or money owed to the CRA, such as a credit card number, and offers to help you apply for benefits, writes the CRA.
The BBB, meanwhile, advises Canadians to file their taxes early — before a scammer can use their personal information to file a fake return — and to only deal with trustworthy tax preparation services. Residents can also sign up for email notifications from the CRA, use complex online passwords, and remember that the CRA doesn’t contact Canadians by text or social media.
Canadians are encouraged to report any scams they encounter at antifraudcentre.ca or by calling 1-888-495-8501. Those who believe they’ve been the victim of fraud, or who unknowingly provided personal or financial information are encouraged to contact their location police detachment, financial institution and credit reporting agencies, says the CRA.
Anyone who believes their SIN number has been stolen can contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.