Be extra careful if you received a mail, email or phone call from someone posing to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). They may say you’re owed a refund or warn you about an issue with your taxes (such as missing information or claims that you’re committing tax fraud). To collect your money or resolve the problem, the scammer asks you to supply personal identification information, such as social insurance number, credit card details, bank account information or passport numbers. In some cases, the scammer will tell you that unless you pay a certain amount of money, you’ll be sent to prison.
“It’s one of the biggest scams out there right now,” said Jessica Gunson of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), a federal agency jointly managed by the RCMP, the Competition Bureau, and the OPP. “These scammers are very threatening. They’re very direct. They entice that fear. They just want that person to have that knee-jerk reaction. They don’t want to give them time to think about it. They don’t want them to talk to anyone else.”
To protect yourself, always remember that CRA will never do the following:
- The CRA will never request payments by prepaid credit cards.
- The CRA will never request, by email, personal information of any kind from a taxpayer.
- The CRA will never request information from a taxpayer pertaining to a passport, health card, or driver’s licence.
- The CRA will not divulge taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
- The CRA will not leave any personal information on an answering machine.
According to CBC Marketplace investigation, those carrying out the scam are young, usually in their 20s, and veterans of Mumbai’s legitimate call centres, where English-language skills and an understanding of Western countries are a must. The earning potential is huge: a typical month’s salary can be earned in just one night. The more you steal from an unsuspecting Canadian, the more you take home.
Indian police say they are ready to crack down on these operations but need Canadian police to tell them about victims — and share details about the scammers. Back in Canada, the most vulnerable victims are the elderly and new immigrants.
If you’ve been contacted by these fraudsters, you can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact your local police.