Don’t Let Tax Season Become Scam Season

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 2:37 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

Now that the tax deadline is just around the corner, many Canadians are feeling the crunch. Unfortunately, so are cyber criminals. The number of phishing scams and deceptive phone calls skyrocket at this time of the year, as identity thieves attempt to capitalize on people’s tax anxiety. We here at Absolute Destruction don’t want you sharing your personal information accidentally, whether it’s by an errant credit card statement or by one of these cons. That’s why in addition to providing the GTA with secure document destruction, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help you avoid falling for these scams.

Some popular scams include an email stating you owe on one of your returns, and in order to pay the difference you must follow the link that they provide. In clicking this link, you may be sent to a page that looks very similar to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s official website, as these criminals will take care to make their request look legit; but there are little clues that should tip you off.

  • The CRA will never email to you unless it’s to confirm your email for your My Account or to notify you of new mail on your My Account
  • The CRA will never email you a link asking for your contact or financial information
  • The fraudulent link in these phishing emails won’t have the CRA domain name nor will its email address come from the official agency

Another scam currently targeting Canadians is done over the phone. Someone posing as a CRA agent will call you claiming you owe a lot of money on one of your returns. They’ll use hostile language and threats of jail time in order to extort the amount that you supposedly owe. They’ll also suggest you divulge your credit card number or use a pre-paid credit card or retail gift card to pay off your debt. Like the phishing scam above, there should be clear signs that you aren’t speak with the CRA in this situation.

  • The CRA will never use threatening or vulgar language when speaking about your account
  • The CRA will never ask for your credit card information over the phone
  • The CRA will never suggest you use pre-paid credit cards or retail gift cards in order to pay what you owe on your return
  • The CRA will never leave an intimidating voicemail message detailing personal information.

What seems like an obvious scam to you has fooled a number of Canadians into giving their personal, financial information to these criminals. According to the latest studies, the number of people who were defrauded by these kinds of scams have increased. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) found that more people were targeted successfully in the first half of 2016 than all of 2015. The CAFC also believes this figure doesn’t even tell the true story, as most victims don’t report their issues.

Be wary of how you share your information at any time of the year, but especially tax season. If you ever receive an email or phone call that you think is unusual, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Disconnect the call or exit your email to check in with the CRA. Log onto your My Account or call the official number of the CRA. You’ll be able to verify if your tax account is normal and then alert the agency of the scam.

Stay safe this tax season, and be careful with your personal information. Share your personal information with only the CRA, and be sure to call us to destroy any obsolete tax returns.

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