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Canada Revenue Agency Scams – New and Improved

19/12/2019


Fraudsters are becoming ever more sophisticated in creating opportunities and tactics to scam unsuspecting individuals out of funds. Taxpayers need to be vigilant when they receive any sort of communication from someone claiming to be from the CRA — whether that be in the form of an email, text or telephone call. Typically, these scammers will insist a person provide personal information to receive a payment, for example a credit card or bank account number or a passport number. They also pose as collections agents, misleading taxpayers into paying false debts.

Taxpayers should never respond to any threatening or coercive language designed to scare them into paying fictitious debts to the CRA (jail or deportation, for example). They should not enter any personal information into websites to which they are directed. These are simply designed to obtain taxpayers’ private information.

The CRA may contact taxpayers by phone, mail or by email. They do not use text messages, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Taxpayers are warned to not click on any links in any email they receive. This is a technique known as phishing and is used to steal personal information when the link is clicked.

Taxpayers are also advised to consider email security (for example, when transmitting sensitive data or setting passwords). Personal email accounts can also be hacked to gather sensitive personal information which can be used by fraudsters.

Recently, a scammer used the name of a real CRA agent and called an MNP client. They cited MNP’s name and told the client they were going to be audited. Luckily MNP was able to verify the call was a scam and halted any further activity. In another situation, the fraudster somehow knew the taxpayer used MNP for their tax reporting, name-dropped MNP and advised the client that they should pay $6,000. The scammer also noted to the client the MNP Advisor (named) was aware and approved the payment. Unfortunately, the client fell for the scam and paid the money. 

It is important for taxpayers to be aware of the status of their tax filings and any amounts owing or refundable; by doing so, they can often immediately detect the validity of a communication. A best practice is for a taxpayer to take down the CRA agent’s contact details and agent code and call their MNP advisor with the information to follow up with the CRA. If the communication is received by email, this can be forwarded to MNP to follow up. Additionally, the taxpayer can (and should) ask for any telephone request be made in writing and sent by mail or fax.

CRA will never:

  • Ask for information about taxpayer’s passports, health cards or driver’s licenses.
  • Demand immediate payment via non-cash means, i.e. bitcoin, Interac e-transfer, prepaid credit cards, gift cards, etc.
  • Leave voicemails that are threatening or contain personal or financial information.
  • Send emails requiring links to be clicked or information be filled out.
  • Set up a meeting with taxpayers in a public place to take payment.

If you suspect a CRA scam:

  1. Confirm the legitimacy of the CRA caller: ask for their name, agent code, phone number and office location. Call the CRA to confirm the information (1-800-959-8281 for individuals, and 1-800-959-5525 for businesses). 
  2. Ask for the CRA request for information in writing (fax or send to address on file or send to MNP Address).
  3. Trust your instincts.

The CRA has detailed information on its website about fraud and scam prevention:

CRA:  Slam the Scam and What to Expect When the CRA Contacts You.

For more information, contact your local Business Advisor or visit MNP.ca