Fraud Scenario – Telephone phishing

Amy is a young professional beginning her career after graduating from university. One day at work, she receives a call from a number that she doesn’t recognize. The individual on the line identifies himself as a CRA employee, and claims that Amy has an outstanding debt. He explains that confirmation of Amy’s personal information, including her birthdate and bank account, is required to sort out the debt with a re-payment plan.

Amy does not recall owing the CRA money. What’s more, she does not remember providing the CRA with her work number. When she voices these concerns, the requester becomes agitated, and warns Amy that there will be consequences if she does not cooperate. Although she is apprehensive, she has never personally dealt with the CRA and assumes the request must be normal. She reluctantly agrees to provide the information.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Every year, Canadians lose millions of dollars to telephone phishing scams that result in identity and financial theft. Beware of telephone calls claiming to be from the CRA. The CRA never asks for information such as credit card, health card or passport numbers. The CRA never threatens to lay criminal charges or have you put in jail if you don’t pay your taxes. If a telephone scammer uses threats to coerce you into providing personal information, ignore the call and report it to the RCMP Anti-Fraud Centre by email at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

If the CRA does need to contact you by telephone, there are established processes in place to ensure your personal information is protected. If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone call, you can do so by calling the CRA using the numbers on our telephone numbers page. For business-related calls, contact 1-800-959-5525 and for individual concerns, contact 1-800-959-8281.

Caller ID Spoofing

Caller ID is a useful function. However, the information displayed can be altered by criminals. Never use only the displayed information to confirm the identity of the caller whether it be an individual, a company or a government entity.

When in doubt, ask yourself:

  • Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
  • How did the requester get my telephone number?
  • Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
  • Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?

If it sounds suspicious, report it.

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