Tax Fraud: 5 Ways to Know You’re Being Scammed
Yes, it could happen to you. Here, a basic guideline from the Canada Revenue Agency to help you identify possible tax scams.
The voice mail message, delivered with a strong Asian accent, was menacing.
The man knew my name and address.
He warned me that the Canada Revenue Agency was about to file a lawsuit against me, and that I could be arrested unless I cooperated and made good on my tax bill right away.
For a while, longer than I’d like to admit, I fell for it.
The truth is, I’m behind in my taxes.
I was feeling guilty enough that I panicked a little at the message.
Okay, more than a little.
What if it really was the CRA?
I called back, as instructed.
The voice on the other end, the same voice that was on the message, answered with, “Hello.”
“You are wasting the government’s time! We will have you arrested! I am calling the Toronto Police right now!”
Silly me. I still didn’t think “scam.”
Instead, I asked to speak to his supervisor.
He banged down the phone.
Slowly, I began to piece it together. The call screener for the message he’d left showed a private number, not CRA.
There was no indication through any of this that he was a representative of the CRA.
Finally, I calmed down and concluded that I’d been scammed—and had come ridiculously close to falling for it.
When I spoke to Paul Murphy, a CRA media relations specialist, he told me that there was a lot of this scamming going on this season.
To help you identify possible scams, Murphy offers the following guidelines:
• never requests prepaid credit cards or gift cards such as iTunes cards;
• never requests wire transfers to a bank account;
• never asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;
• never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have provided the appropriate authorization; and
• never leaves personal information on your answering machine or asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.