Personal Investor: How to spot a tax scam
Sure as winter turns to spring, the tax scammers are out in force.
They love this time of year because they know many Canadians are receiving tax refunds. The latest scam making the rounds is an email posing as a notice of an Interac payment on behalf to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). To make things convenient, the scammer suggests depositing your refund in one of a series of scam bank icons posing as links to real bank websites. Odds are – they figure – one of them is yours.
The objective is to get you to transfer money from your real account into their fake account.
The CRA says it’s a scam – and it’s not the only one.
They say they have noticed and increase in scams and suggest tips to avoid them on their website.
They also say the best way for taxpayers to protect themselves is to confirm the status of their individual income tax account before a scam attempt.
Here are a few things the CRA will never do:
- Send payments using Interac e-transfer. The CRA only sends payments by direct deposit or cheque;
- Request payment by prepaid credit cards or gift cards;
- Ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver's licence;
- Share your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have provided the appropriate authorization; and
- Leave personal information on your answering machine or ask you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.
When the CRA calls you, it has established procedures in place to make sure your personal information is protected. The public can confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone number by calling the CRA regarding individual income tax enquiries at 1-800-959-8281. If you receive a call saying you owe money to the CRA, you can call or check your account to be sure.
The CRA advises individuals who have provided information and/or money to scammers to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), their local police authorities, and their financial institution. The CAFC provides support to the victims of fraud and can be reached toll free at 1-888-495-8501.
If you suspect your privacy may have been breached, the CRA advises:
1) Request a Client Authorization Required (CAR) indicator on your individual tax account by calling the CRA General Enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281;
2) Consider informing Equifax Canada and TransUnion that your personal information may have been breached. These two companies keep information on individuals’ credit and can enhance the security of individual accounts. For example, taxpayers can request a Credit File Alert Flag from Equifax Canada, which will alert creditors who request credit information from Equifax Canada to ask for additional proof of identity to the person seeking credit. This flag will help prevent the misuse of personal information.