f you haven’t personally experienced the threatening phone call that sounds like an automated robot saying “You are under arrest and owe the CRA $2,000 for tax fraud”, it’s highly likely you know someone who has. Ever wonder where these calls are coming from and why you are getting upwards of 5 a day sometimes? Is it actually the CRA calling you, or is it a CRA Scam trying to trick you into thinking you’re under arrest for tax fraud? Even though it’s been going on for quite some time now, scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees consistently continue to contact Canadians, misleading them into paying the false debt. How do you know how to identify legitimate communications from the CRA? Let’s take a closer look.
Signs it’s a CRA Scam
There are a few red flags to be wary of when receiving a call or email from someone requesting any personal information. It’s easy to confuse a CRA Scam call from a legitimate call because the CRA does in fact contact taxpayers by phone and email; however, there are some things that the CRA would never do.
• The CRA would never use aggressive language or threaten to send you to jail.
• The CRA would also never leave aggressive or threatening voicemails.
• The CRA would never ask for personal financial information.
• The CRA would never demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, or gift cards.
• The CRA would never ask for personal information such as your passport, health card, or drivers license.
• The CRA would never ask you to click on a link to provide financial information.
• The CRA would never send you an email with a link to a refund.
Signs it’s Actually The CRA
If The CRA were to engage in communications with you, there are several ways to identify if it’s a legitimate form of communication. Some of the areas The CRA might touch on when contacting you include the following.
• The CRA may verify your identity by asking for simple personal information such as your full name, date of birth, or address.
• The CRA may inform you when a new document or notice of assessment is available for you to view in secure CRA portals.
• The CRA may send you a notice of assessment or reassessment.
• The CRA may write or phone you to begin an audit process.
Misleading Text Messages
Aside from non-legitimate tax fraud phone calls taking place, another common method of communication that tax fraud has recently adopted is through text messages. It’s important to note that The CRA never uses text messaging or any other form of instant messaging to communicate with taxpayers.
Where Are The Calls Coming From?
The majority of these organized crime groups operate throughout India and continue to target Canadians daily. Between September and January of 2019, it was reported that an estimated 40 illegal call centers were targeted by the RCMP, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), and law enforcement in India. During the busts, more than 60 people were arrested. In this report, it was also stated that there are potentially hundreds of illegal call centers that have popped up in the last few months. The call centers are supposedly small in size, which allows scammers to pack up and move in the event they become suspicious.
Who Do The CRA Scams Target?
Based on CAFC data, an estimated 1,500 people reported being a victim of this type of scam in 2018; however, it appears that those numbers have increased since then. Adding to this, these 1,500 victims were robbed of more than $6 million.
What To Do if You Run into a CRA Scam?
This is a great question and honestly, it appears like we are still trying to figure out the best course of action when it comes to actually deal with these calls. RCMP advise the easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of the scam is to silence or not answer the call. Even if the call is answered, it’s in your best interest to hang up the call as soon as it becomes suspicious. With the growing nature of these CRA scams, investigators want people to report these calls whether they’re scammed or not.
How To Report a CRA Scam?
To report a suspected scam, Canadians can contact the CAFC by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online. People are also encouraged to contact their local police force. If you receive an e-mail or text message making suspicious tax claims and urging you to click on a link to submit information, don’t interact.