Tax time is coming, and unfortunately that means that the scams are, too!
There are a variety of scams and frauds happening in Canada, and new ones are invented daily. Learn how to protect yourself from scammers and be scam smart with this information from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Many scams and frauds attempt to imitate government services to gain access to your personal and financial information. To make sure that the agency contacting you, by phone, email, or mail, is legitimate, know that:
A legitimate CRA employee will identify themselves when they contact you, giving you their name and a phone number. Make sure that the caller is a CRA employee before you give them any personal information by following these steps:
- Tell the caller you would like to first verify their identity.
- Request and make a note of their:
- Phone number
- Office location
- Then you can end the call and check that the information provided during the call was legitimate by contacting the CRA.
- Do this before giving any information to the caller!
- Then you can call back the CRA employee to discuss the reason for their call.
The CRA may:
- Call if you are eligible for individual tax filing assistance.
- Verify your identity by asking for personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address and account, social insurance number, the name of your bank and its location.
- Contact individuals and businesses about a tax debt.
- Call you to offer free tax help for your small business.
- Notify you by email when a new message or document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view in secure CRA portals such as My Account.
- Offer an automated call back service when wait times are long. This will include a randomized 4-digit confirmation number which will be repeated back to you by the call centre agent at the time of the callback.
- Email you a link to a CRA webpage, form, or publication that you ask for during a telephone call or meeting with an agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links).
- Ask you to pay an amount you owe through any of the CRA’s payment options.
But the CRA will never:
- Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers.
- Demand payment to speak with a CRA agent.
- Set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment.
- Use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police.
- Leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information.
- Give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link.
- Email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details.
- Send you an email with a link to your refund.
- Recommend that you apply for benefits. You can apply for benefits directly on the Government of Canada websites or by phone.
When in doubt, ask yourself:
- Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately?
- Am I sure that the caller is a CRA employee? Did they give their name and office location?
- Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or reassessment saying I owe tax?
- Have I received written communication from the CRA by email or mail about the subject of the call?
- Is the caller asking for information I would not give in my tax return or that is not related to the money I owe the CRA?
- Be careful before you click on links in any email you receive.
- Caller ID is useful, but the information displayed can be altered and should not be used as a confirmation of who is calling.
- Protect your social insurance number. Make sure that an organization or individual who asks for it is legally required to collect it, and otherwise offer other forms of ID.
If you have been scammed:
- Contact your local police service.
- If your social insurance number has been stolen, contact Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627.
- Contact the CRA if you think that your CRA user ID or the password you use in personal dealings with the CRA has been compromised, or if you want to disable online access to your information on the CRA login services.
- Report a scam to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501.
For more information, see