REGINA - Fraud Prevention Month is an annual campaign that seeks to help Canadians recognize, reject and report fraud. There are a variety of scams and frauds happening in Canada with new ones invented daily, and it is especially important to stay alert during tax filing season.
“Fraud can happen any month. The Canada Revenue Agency does see an increase of fraud attempts right before and after the tax filing season, from February to June,” said Joanne de Waal, communications manager, Western Region, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Many scams and frauds attempt to imitate government services in order to gain access to your personal and financial information. “Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated,” added de Waal. “There have started to use legitimate logos, and more professional wording, in their phishing and fraud attempts.”
There are some unmistakable signs when a message from the CRA is a fraud attempt. “We have had reports of Canadians getting a request to pay their tax bill, using BitCoin, and the CRA will never accept BitCoin as payment. We will also never ask you to pay your tax bill using gift cards, or with a prepaid Visa card.”
“The CRA does not send text messages, and will only send out emails to alert a MyAccount user that they have new mail in their online profile,” said de Waal.
It is recommended that Canadians with a MyAccount only update personal information using the secure website, as there is a multi-factor authentication used to ensure added protection. Residents should never provide personal information in a response to an email or a text claiming to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Most Canadians will receive an email that will alert them that they have new mail in their CRA My Account. The CRA will not send a text message to announce a tax refund. “Typically, most people will notice their tax return in their bank account, before seeing the Notice of Assessment in their MyAccount,” said de Waal.
There are still times when the CRA does have to phone a resident. One of the situations is when a third-person agency has request to be included on the account of the tax filer, and the CRA needs to verify the agency.
“We will never call and threaten to send the police to collect on an outstanding tax payment, as the police are not even the right agency to send,” said de Waal.
“It is important to listen to your inner voice, with you are suspicious of a phone call. You will never be penalized if you hang up the call. The best method to confirm that the call was legitimate is to call the CRA Call Centre at 1-800-959-8281. Our agents will properly identify ourselves, and will be able to confirm if we had attempted a phone call,” said de Waal.
Residents who have called the general inquiries number to request a form, or a link to important information on the CRA website, will see an email with the requested information arrive in their email in-box, while the CRA agent is still on the line.
“Sometimes, we will still become a victim of fraud. The first thing that an affected resident should do is to contact their local police. We also recommend to contact the Anti-Fraud Centre, who are a division of the RCMP,” said de Waal.
The email address to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca and their phone number again is 1-888-495-8501.
“The more we can report it, the more information we have, and the quicker we can stop this, and prevent it,” said de Waal.
The CRA can also add extra security features on MyAccount to help protect the personal information of affected residents.
In general, Canadians can protect themselves from hackers by using unique passwords, and to change those passwords several times a year. “Do not click on a link from an email, when it is not from a trusted source,” added de Waal.