Is that Really the CRA Calling?

If you receive a phone call from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it is important to verify that you are truly speaking to a CRA official. Before disclosing your personal information or sending any money, you should know what to expect from a CRA call. Here are some pointers to help you validate the caller’s identity and potentially protect you from scam artists.

A legitimate CRA phone call will:

• Be professional and not make overt threats.
• Verify your identity by asking your full name, date of birth and residential or business address.
• Ask about business account details if you are a business owner.
• Request tax debt payments by utilizing CRA’s secure payment options.

During a phone conversation, the CRA will not:

• Ask you for details about your driver’s licence, health card or passport.
• Request you to send your personal information through email.
• Attempt to make an in-person appointment to accept payment in a public location.
• Insist that you pay your debt with a prepaid credit card immediately.
• Make threats or be overly aggressive to get your personal information on the phone.

If you received a letter or an email notification from the CRA first, then a follow-up phone call can be expected. To truly protect yourself from unauthorized callers, check the caller’s authenticity by writing down their name, phone number and location of their office. Let the caller know that you wish to verify their identity before divulging any personal information.

At this point, you can call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for personal tax questions or 1-800-959-5525 for business tax questions and confirm that the person who called you actually works for the CRA. While it does take a few extra steps to verify who made the call, it is truly worth the effort to protect your information and money.

Scammers are “very persistent and they continue until they find a victim and then they prey on them.”

In Windsor, a man recently lost just over $1,000. After sending the money, the fraudster told the victim he made a mistake and that he actually owed a few hundred dollars more.

The Windsor sergeant explains that’s when the man became suspicious. “He thought, ‘That’s kind of weird, the government should have that together and know exactly what I owe.'” The man then reported the case to Windsor police, but by then it was too late to get his money back.

Another example was an elderly Calgary woman was instructed to go to a store and buy four prepaid Visa cards to pay off her CRA debt.

Fortunately, the store clerk saved the day. “The clerk became suspicious and asked [the victim] the reason behind the purchase and actually contacted police on her behalf and no money was lost,” a Calgary Sergeant said.

People should be aware that the CRA would never ask a person to wire cash or prepaid cards as payment. CRA doesn’t threaten to arrest people if they don’t immediately pay up.

The blogs posted on our website provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

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