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In the past few months a new telephone scam has surfaced. This time scammers are calling unsuspecting people at home and claiming that they are the Canadian Revenue Agency. These scammers will explain to you that you owe a significant amount of money in tax debt and that they have been sending you letters that you have not responded to. You will then be told that the CRA is going to put your account into collections and this maybe result in the seizure of your assets.

Since telephone calls from government agencies accusing you of having tax debt don’t happen that often you’ll probably be caught off guard and potentially believe the scammer on the other end of the phone call. This is what they want; they are relying on your confusion especially when they then explain to you that you can clear this whole misunderstanding up right away over the phone. The scammer will ask for your credit or debit card number and information so they can charge you for the amount you owe and clear up your debt.

Even if you’re skeptical and realize that maybe you need to ask a few more questions these scammers will provide you with the perfect answers. Should you ask for further identification to verify the legitimacy of these claims you will be provided with both an identification number and a phone number you can call. Once you’ve called the number that the scammer has given you and the identification number has been verified you’ll be transferred back to your original caller. The scammers are relying on you to be convinced of the authenticity of the scam after you’ve gone through the whole process

What Makes This Such a Convincing Scam?

Obviously not all scams are created equally; some are more convincing than others. This one is in fact quite good and here’s why:

  • The average Canadian isn’t used to receiving calls from the government, therefor a call from the Canadian Revenue Agency will catch you off guard and potentially make you more susceptible to the scam.
  • This scam preys on people’s insecurities about their debts and their taxes.
  • While it’s not exactly tax season yet people tend to start thinking about their taxes towards the end of the year. This scam uses this idea to its advantage.
  • The scammer you speak to on the phone will be very good at convincing you that you’ve done something wrong by ignoring the letters they the CRA has allegedly been spending you.
  • You’ll be threatened with the seizure of assets.
  • These scammers have set up a verification system to convince you they are in fact legitimate.

This scam has had a lot of thought put into it and that’s why it’s so convincing, this is also why it’s so extremely important that you remain skeptical of any and all phone calls from anyone who says you owe them any amount of money.

The CRA Will Never…

While these scammers might be convincing it’s important to note that the Canadian Revenue Agency or any government agency will never:

  • Ask for your bank account information, debit card number or credit card number over the phone.
  • Request that you send them a prepaid card or a transfer from your bank’s E-Transfer service.
  • Ask you to provide them any information from your driver’s licence, passport, healthcare card or social security number.
  • Provide anyone with your tax or personal information unless you have given them the appropriate authorization.
  • Leave important personal information on your answering machine or voice mail should they be unable to get in contact with you. They will also never ask you to leave your personal information on an answering machine.

What Should you do?

If you receive a call from these scammers you can try to get as much information from them as possible and then hang up. Or if you do not wish to speak with them at all, hang up right away. Do not under any circumstance provide these scammers with any personal information.

Once you hung up you can report this incident to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by visiting their website. Follow the instructions on the website if you wish to file a report.

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

Unfortunately there are new scams popping up every day, this can make it extremely difficult to arm yourself with all the information necessary to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a scam. As a general rule here are a few things you should always avoid or be aware of:

  • If it sounds so good to be true.
  • If you must provide them with important personal information over the phone.
  • If they want you to give them money right away.
  • If the person on the other end of the phone is too friendly or too excited or asks too many personal questions- typically they’re trying to disarm you and make you feel comfortable.

Finally, if you have already been the victim of an online or telephone scam and you are too embarrassed or scared to tell anyone you need to do so anyway. The sooner you get in contact with the authorities the greater the chance of a positive outcome for you.

Caitlin Wood, BA avatar on Loans Canada
Caitlin Wood, BA

Caitlin Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Loans Canada and specializes in personal finance. She is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. Caitlin has covered various subjects such as debt, credit, and loans. Her work has been published on Zoocasa, GoDaddy, and deBanked. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security.

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