March 18th, 2016

“Your 82 year old grandmother calls you at work in the middle of the day and she is in tears. She explains that she has just been told by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that she will go to jail if she doesn’t pay her taxes right away. Scared and confused, she gave the caller personal and financial information. What would you do?”

This scenario is only one of many examples of someone who fell prey to a highly skilled scammer. It wasn’t the CRA calling. Anyone can get telephone calls, mail, text messages or emails, or any fraudulent communication that claims to be from the CRA.

For information on scams or to report deceptive telemarketing, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) online at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1‑888‑495‑8501. If you believe you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service.

Scams that involve impersonating the CRA appear to target new Canadians and senior citizens. But no one is immune.

When the CRA calls you, it has established procedures in place to make sure your personal information is protected. If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone call, call the CRA by using the numbers on its Telephone numbers page. The number for business-related calls is 1‑800‑959‑5525. The number for calls about individual concerns is 1‑800‑959‑8281.

To help you identify possible scams involving the CRA, use the following guidelines:

The CRA:

  • never requests prepaid credit cards;
  • never asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;
  • never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have provided the appropriate authorization; and
  • never leaves personal information on your answering machine or asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
  • 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?

Remember, you can confirm your tax status with the CRA either online through the CRA secure portals such as My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client, or by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for businesses.