Would you Recognize the Warning Signs?
16/03/2018 - As tax season is upon us would you recognize the warning signals, or would you know what to expect if the CRA ever contacted you?
It is possible that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will contact you by phone for legitimate tax reasons. During such phone calls, the CRA officer must validate your identity and therefore will ask for certain personal information, including your date of birth, your address, and in the case of a business some account specific details. The CRA officials will act with professionalism and will not be aggressive or make threats. To help you identify possible scams, use the following guidelines:
Before giving money or personal information:
- Verify the caller’s authenticity. You can note the caller’s name, phone number, and office location and tell them that you want to first validate their identity. You can then verify that the employee works for the CRA or that the CRA did contact you by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for business.
- Verify your tax status and make sure your address and email are up to date. You can confirm this information with the CRA either online through the CRA secure portals such as My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client, or by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for business.
When in doubt, ask yourself:
- Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or re-assessment indicating a tax balance due?
- Have I received previous written communication from the CRA by email notification or mail about the subject of the call? Does the CRA even have contact information such as my email and address?
- Is the requester asking for information I would not provide in my tax return or that is not related to my debt with the CRA?
- Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately? Am I confident the caller is a CRA employee?
CRA phone interactions generally come after written communications, such as an email notification to check your online mail or a letter, and are made under special circumstances. For example:
- If you have a tax debt, a collections officer may call you to discuss your case and request a payment. In this case, you may need to provide some information about your household financial situation.
- If you have not filed your income tax and benefit return, a CRA officer may contact you by telephone to ask you for the missing returns.
- If the CRA has questions about your tax and benefit records, or documents you have submitted, a CRA officer may contact you by phone for further discussion.
To report scams:
Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501. If you believe that you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service, financial institution, and credit reporting agencies.