Differences between real CRA call and a scam

Many of us have heard of scammers pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. You may have even received a call or email yourself. But how do you know what you can trust?

Avoiding this common scam is easier when you know what the agency will and won’t do. The agency will never threaten you with immediate arrest or jail for a tax debt, and never uses text or instant messaging to communicate about taxes. It will never demand that you settle tax debt by buying gift cards or prepaid credit cards, or using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or offer to pay you a refund by e-transfer.

Remain vigilant when you receive communication from someone claiming to be from the CRA, especially when asked for personal information such as a social insurance, credit card, bank account or passport number. If you are unsure that the person on the phone is a legitimate agency employee, ask for the agent’s phone number and badge number and call 1-800-959-8281 to validate the caller.

If you receive a call demanding immediate payment, take time to think it over. If you believe it was legitimate, you can check the status of your account online.

If you use online or telephone services, you can further protect yourself by keeping your access codes, user ID, passwords and PINs secret, and changing them frequently. Enabling “email notifications” for online CRA accounts will notify you by email of changes to them, warning you of potentially fraudulent activity.

Finally, suspicious phone calls or messages can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by telephone. If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, contact your local police.

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