Just as most people have caught up with the idea that Canada Revenue Agency does not have the RCMP call you and threaten to throw you in jail for money you didn’t even know you owed them, along comes a new scam that is even more frightening and convincing than the old one.
In this new scam, the person on the other end of the phone tells you that he is calling from the Canada Revenue Agency. He or she tells you that the call relates to a debt owed, and just to confirm, how did you file your return?
If you are like the bulk of Canadians who get help to do your annual personal or business tax return, you list the name of the accounting firm that did the work for you.
The scammer says he knows you will want to verify what he is saying about your debt, and says they will get the firm on the line. He calls a local number while you are on the phone and the phone is answered as you listen by a person who says he or she is with the firm which handled your taxes, saying the firm’s name loud and clear.
The scammer asks the person that you believe is from your tax preparer’s office to confirm if you have a debt issue with Canada Revenue. They do.
Then the scammer advises you how to deposit the money so you can avoid charges or jail time or heavy fines. In one case that I read about, the person was actually asked to deposit the money apparently owed in a Bitcoin machine.
As tax season has ended, this is the time of the year when the most scammers are operating.
I have written about this before, but it bears repeating that no matter how many new angles the scammers come up with, Canada Revenue does not have police officers working for them, and they are not part of the Canadian military. Their supervisors do not have the power to arrest people.
Canada Revenue does not do business with Bitcoin. Nor do they ask for you to pay using prepaid credit cards or ITunes cards. They also do not threaten people by phone.
In this latest scam, remember as well that your tax preparer would never just give your personal tax information to a person over the telephone, regardless of whether or not they said they were from Canada Revenue Agency.
Canada Revenue does not have the kind of relationship with tax preparers across the country that they would even consider they could just call and ask us to confirm a client’s tax debt. It would be unheard of. And Canada Revenue knows for sure what you owe; they don’t have to ask anybody.
That is not to suggest for a moment that Canada Revenue Agency is not aggressive about collecting what you owe them. They will persist, they may garnishee your wages, and they won’t leave you alone until they get their money. But they will not use a police officer to call you and threaten you or ask for your credit card information over the phone.
New this spring as well on the scope of tax scammers is the email you receive saying you have a refund coming from Canada Revenue Agency but you have to fill out a form giving a lot of your personal information before they will send it.
Don’t fall for that.
Canada Revenue already knows what to do with your refund and how to get it to you. It all within your tax filing paperwork. You will either have your cheque mailed to you or direct deposited into your bank account as you select.
Likewise the Canada Revenue Agency would not ask you to give your credit card number and security number to pay your debt. They actually do not use emails and they do not accept payments from credit cards to pay taxes.
If you are approached by someone claiming to be Canada Revenue Agency and suggesting you send money using any of the means discussed in this blog, you are being scammed.
If the Canada Revenue’s Collections department is calling you, you would have already received your Notice of Assessment or Notice o Reassessment from them. They would have made other attempts to contact you first, normally through. They NEVER send you an email asking you for your credit card information because they never use email as a form of communication.
If you feel that you are being scammed, but you aren’t sure, hang up and call the Canada Revenue Agency’s Centre’s general inquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.
If you receive a scam attempt or some other disreputable telemarketing approach, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or call them at 1-888-495-8501.
Certified professional bookkeeper and certified tax specialist Elena Ivanova is managing director of Piligrim Accounting Inc., a national accounting and tax preparation service based in Richmond Hill, Ont. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.