In addition to the ever present hidden threats rolling around in cyber space, there is the constant barrage of “in your face” scams designed to steal your money, or worse, your identity.
At the best of times, scams run rampant.
Add tax time to the picture, and the scams ramp up.
Now add COVID-19 government relief measures, organizations fund raising, and businesses selling goods and services, and the scams have multiplied exponentially.
Considering this reality, here’s some insight on how to identify and protect yourself from targeted scammers masquerading as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
A CRA representative will never demand immediate payment by credit card, interac e-transfer, prepaid gift cards or bitcoin.
A CRA rep will never set up a meeting with you to pick up a payment.
A CRA rep will never use aggressive language or send the police or threaten arrest or prison sentence.
Specifically by phone, if a CRA rep calls you they will identify themselves by an employee number.
They will ask you to prove your identify by name, date of birth and social insurance number.
A CRA rep will not ask for any detail from your passport, drivers license or health card.
Alternatively, after the CRA rep has identified themself, you may ask for their contact phone number and offer to call them back.
Then you contact CRA directly to verify the CRA rep is a CRA employee, and then call the CRA rep back.
A CRA rep may leave a voicemail but the message will never state your personal or financial information designed to anger or entice you to call back.
A CRA rep will leave a phone number for you to call, but remember this doesn’t guarantee it isn’t a scam.
CRA will never use text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with taxpayers under any circumstance.
If you receive a text or instant message claiming to be from the CRA, it’s a scam.
Specifically by email, CRA will only state within the email that there is a message for you within your CRA “My Account” and ask you to log into your account.
An email from CRA will never offer a direct link to your “My Account”, or any link for that matter and this includes a link to take you directly to a refund or make a payment.
CRA emails will never have an attachment. CRA will never ask you to reply to an email.
As a general comment, look at messaging for poor spelling, grammar, math, and images.
And don’t skim read.
Actually read it word for word so you have a better chance of spotting errors.
As you consider any message on your computer or phone, or listen to a person on your phone, or read a letter from your mailbox, don’t jump to the conclusion that whoever is contacting you is really who they say they are.
This applies to CRA and other government agencies, charities, and not-for-profits, and even businesses. They are all subject to being impersonated by scammers.
Do your research before committing.
Ron Clarke, owner of JBS Business Services in Trail, provides accounting and tax services.