Don’t become a victim of a tax scam
Now that tax season is over and people are expecting to hear from the government about their returns, the Calgary Police Service is reminding Calgarians to be on guard for scammers pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Known as the CRA Scam, people are contacted by phone or email and are told by someone pretending to be a CRA employee that they either have a refund waiting or owe unpaid taxes. If it is a refund, they are asked to provide personal or financial information in order to get their money. If it is a debt, the person is asked to pay it immediately either through a money wire transfer, e-transfer or large quantity of pre-paid gift cards.
Often, the scammers can be quite aggressive and even threaten to have people arrested or deported if they do not pay the fake debt immediately. Victims have been defrauded of thousands of dollars through these techniques.
To help people avoid becoming a victim of this scam, police are providing the following tips:
- The CRA will not ask for payment via prepaid credit cards, gift cards or wire transfer.
- The CRA does not email or text Canadians and request personal or financial information.
- The CRA will not call you demanding money immediately or threatening arrest.
- If you are contacted and told you owe money or get a refund, always confirm with the CRA directly. Look up the official contact information online and don’t use the contact information or links provided to you by potential scammers.
- Do not feel pressure to respond to a request until you have a chance to verify the story.
- Never transfer money, or give out credit card or other financial information, until you can verify the person’s identity and the story, and determine whether it is legitimate.
- Don’t believe what you see. Business logos, websites and email addresses can easily be duplicated to look legitimate.
- Watch for poor grammar and spelling.
- Hover your mouse over links and emails to check their true destination. If the URL doesn’t match the link, or seems suspicious, don’t click on it.
- Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments from unknown senders, even if the sending email address appears legitimate.
- Update your computer’s anti-virus software.
- Ignore calls for immediate action or messages that create a sense of urgency.
- Never provide personal information such as SIN, bank account information or credit card numbers.
If you believe you have lost money or been threatened, please contact the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 in an emergency. If you received a phone call or email that you believe to be a scam but have not lost money, you can report it online at www.calgarypolice.ca.
For more information on tax scams being tracked throughout Canada and tips to avoid them, visit the Canada Revenue Agency fraud prevention website.