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Eight CRA fraud prevention tips from an accountant in Toronto

Advice from a Toronto accountant about how to protect yourself against CRA fraud

Over the past few months there has been a rise in Canadian residents falling victim of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scams.  A man in Peterborough was defrauded out of $2,400. Residents in south-central Ontario and Chilliwack, British Columbia have also fallen prey to this scam.

Although, in a previous post, I’ve provided advice about how to protect yourself against tax evasion scams, I think its worth mentioning the importance of protecting yourself against such frauds, especially given the rise of these unfortunate defrauding cases.

In this article, I share with you eight CRA fraud prevention tips that will hopefully help you avoid falling victim of a CRA scam.

Typically, victims of the scams receive a phone call from someone pretending to be a representative of Canada Revenue Agency. The fake CRA representative tells the victims that they owe x amount of dollars or their assets will be seized. Alternatively, theses scams could be communicated by email, text message or on the answering machine.

Here are eight crucial fraud prevention tips from an accountant in the Toronto area

If you receive a call from someone saying that they are from the CRA use these guidelines to help verify if the call is legitimate:

  1. The scammers can be extremely assertive and aggressive. Remember the the CRA will never use coercive language or  be aggressive or try to intimidate you.
  2. The scammers may threaten to arrest you or send you to the police. Remember the CRA will never threaten you to arrest you or take you to the police.
  3. If someone calls you saying that they are from the CRA and asking for personal information and/or asks you to give them money. Do not take immediate action. Hang up and verify the information by calling the CRA through the official phone number.
  4. The CRA will never ask you for credit card information or for prepayments by prepaid credit cards or your personal information by email or text message. So if you receive mail, an email or a text message requesting personal information, know that these are fraudulent and never respond to them. Hang up.
  5. Before you take any action or share any personal or financial information, hang up and call a trusted family member, friend, your bank or your chartered accountant to get a second opinion on the call.
  6. Ask yourself:
    1. Is it really safe to transfer money to someone I do not know?
    2. Is there a legitimate reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
    3. Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return? Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
    4. Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
  7. Ask the caller for their ID and verify the callers ID by calling the CRA directly.
  8. Check that status of your account by either logging in to MyAccount or calling CRA directly.

Is the message that you receive from CRA legitimate? when in doubt, ask your Chartered Accountant

If you are unsure if the phone call, email or text message is legitimate or a fraudulent message, ask your Chartered Accountant. Your Chartered Accountant should know how the CRA communicates with taxpayers and your Chartered Accountant should be able to distinguish between fraudulent communication and legitimate communication from the CRA.

If you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud or have received deceptive telemarketing, you should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit CRA fraud website. Follow these steps if you’ve been defrauded.

If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquires, please do not hesitate to contact us.  S&P Accounting Services has experienced Chartered Accountants and we serve clients in in Toronto and other cities in the GTA which include, North York, Thornhill, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Professional accounting services in North York and Toronto

What kind of professional accounting services do we provide?

We provide a full range of professional accounting services which include, accounting, tax returns, bookkeeping, and payroll.  We serve individuals and business clients in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes Toronto, Vaughan, North York, Richmond Hill, Mississauga, and Thornhill.

Why choose our professional accounting services?

Our professional accounting services offer many benefits to our clients:

  • You will have the opportunity to work with chartered accountants who are experts in their field.
  • You will be able to leverage on our extensive experience with audit, review, tax and bookkeeping.
  • We will help you understand how to be more successful. For instance, we will help you understand how your finances work to your benefit and how to grow your wealth in the smartest way possible. Financial literacy is key to becoming a successful business owner.
  • We will simplify your accounting and business needs. For instance, one major advantage of our payroll services is our ability to create a variety of reports that simplify accounting procedures and help your company ensure they are in compliance with legal and tax filing requirements.
  • Our professional accounting services help ensure that your accounting is accurate, complete and filed on time – this way you could focus on what’s important, helping your business succeed.

How are we committed to proving excellent professional accounting services?

  • We will give you the most current information, so you can make informed decisions for your business
  • We will maintain your books up to date to ensure you have a real-time picture of how your business is doing.
  • We will ensure that you file your taxes on time in order to avoid any late penalty fees.
  • We will respond to any of your questions and/or requests within 24 hours.
  • We will always work to improve, enhance and make your core business more efficient by providing you with innovative, sustainable and creative business solutions that are tax efficient and catered to your specific needs.
  • Our unique approach enables us to find specific tax breaks and deductions for most of our clients.

If you require additional consultation or want to learn more about our professional accounting services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

A Chartered Accountant shares important news about tax evasion scams

Important news from a Chartered Accountant: “Canadians be wary of tax evasion scams”

The O.P.P. and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are warning Canadians of fraudulent tax evasion emails and phone calls. Some residents of Tiny Township, Tay Township, and Penetanguishene have been victims of these emails and phone scams purporting to be from the CRA.

A young 18-year-old Chilliwack woman, Sasha Tuttle,  has also fallen prey to the CRA scam and lost $2,000 of her savings. Another Chilliwack resident, 86 year old, Norman Schott received the same phone call as Tuttle. The person on the other end of the phone claimed to be the CRA and told the senior that he has a warrant out for his arrest for tax evasion. Schott knew “something fishy going on” and immediately reported the incident to the police.

Ways to protect yourself against tax evasion scams

As a Chartered Accountant, these are some important precautions I share with my clients:

  1. If someone calls you saying that they are from the CRA and asks you for personal or financial information, really question the caller and ask yourself is the requester asking for information I would not provide in my tax return? (such as my passport number, health card, or driver’s licence) Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me? (such as my social insurance number).
  2. When in doubt, hang up and call the CRA through the official phone number to verify if you owe back taxes or are eligible for a refund. You could also check your online CRA Account to make sure that there is no problem with your tax account. Here are some examples of fraudulent scam stories.
  3. The CRA will never ask you for credit card information or for prepayments by prepaid credit cards or your personal information by email or text message. So if you receive mail, an email or a text message requesting personal information, know that these are fraudulent and never respond to them.  
  4. The CRA will never email a link to you and ask you to divulge personal or financial information. However, the one exception is if you call the CRA to request a form or a link for specific information. In this case, a CRA agent will forward the information you are requesting to your email during the telephone call. This is the only circumstance in which the CRA will send an email containing links.
  5. If you are a responsible citizen that pays your taxes on time and correctly, then it would not make sense for the CRA to claim that you committed a tax evasion. If in fact there are tax evasion allegations against you, then CRA will do so formally in writing.  And even in this case call the CRA through the official phone number to verify if you owe back taxes. You should also check your online CRA Account to check the status of your tax account.
  6. CRA will never use coercive or nasty language to threaten you. Cases of fraudulent communication could include using intimidation or coercive language to frighten taxpayers into paying a fictitious debt to the CRA.  The scammers may threaten to arrest you if don’t pay your fine. Yet, in reality, the CRA will never threaten to arrest you.
  7. Fraudulent communication could play out more subtly as well. The scammers could insist that personal information is needed to process a refund or benefit payment. Yet, in reality, the CRA will never request money or demand credit card information over the phone.
  8. The CRA never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have given the appropriate authorization.
  9. The CRA never leaves personal information on your answering machine or requests you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.
  10. If you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud or have received deceptive telemarketing, you should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit CRA fraud website. Follow these steps if you’ve been defrauded.

If you are unsure if the phone call, email or text message is legitimate or a fraudulent message, ask your Chartered Accountant. Your Chartered Accountant should know how the CRA communicates with taxpayers and your chartered accountant should be able to distinguish between fraudulent communication and legitimate communication from the CRA.

If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquires, please do not hesitate to contact us. We serve clients in Toronto, North York, Vaughan, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, and all other GTA cities.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371- 6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

A Chartered Accountant advises parents on how children could become more financially literate

As a Chartered Accountant, many of my clients ask me how they could help their children become more financially literate.

As a Chartered Accountant and parent, I could understand why they are concerned. Being financially literate is a life skill that children will carry with them even after high school. They need this knowledge in order to responsibly file their tax returns, help pay off debts and credit cards and save for their future. Lacking financial skills could definitely lead to financial troubles.

The good news is there are many different initiatives across Ontario that are helping children and youth gain money skills. For instance, the Ontario Ministry of Education is engaged in a pilot project that is helping revamp the Grade 10 careers courses and is laying the groundwork for financial literacy to become part of the curriculum for the fall of 2018.

Also, findings released this week by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) reveal that Canadian youth are among the top global performancers in financial literacy. Canada came second in financial literacy out of 15 countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey. Eighty-seven per cent of about 3,400 Canadian students who participated in the survey, demonstrated at least a baseline level of financial literacy and Twenty-two per cent of Canadian students demonstrated advanced levels of financial literacy, well above the OECD average.

What could you as parents do to help your children gain money skills?

I recommend talking with your children about money early on and doing so as often as possible. In fact, the PISA survey revealed that Canadian students who discussed money issues with their parents tended to score higher with those discussing money issues at home once or twice a week scoring the highest.

As a Chartered Accountant, from my experience, it is also beneficial for parents to encourage their youth to start handling money early on that way the youth gain greater practical knowledge on how to budget, save and spend wisely. In fact, the PISA survey found that Canadian teenagers who held occasional jobs like gardening and babysitting had, on average  the highest financial scores. Children and youth learn about money by doing. Here is an example of about 100 summer jobs for teens, one of them might peak your children’s interest.

What unbiased resources are out there that could help us parents discuss money matters with our children?

Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA) offers free unbiased financial literacy sessions to the general public. The program is run by Chartered Accountants that volunteer their time and expertise and is available to adults, seniors, workplace, new Canadians, schools, post-secondary students, small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. For instance, some of the topics that parents could learn at the sessions are how to teach their kids to be money-smart and how to become good financial role models for their children. If you are interested, you may request  a session here.

Another informative website is Teaching Children About Money which offers many programs and activities for youth and children. Some topics discussed are:  “What to consider when deciding to give an allowance: how much to give, how often to give and if it should be earned” as well as “What to teach your preschool, school-aged, preteen and teenaged children about money management.”

There is a also a Financial Literacy Database for Canadian parents which offers some educational and fun resources such as how to teach children about money management in a fun and interactive way, how parents could save for their children’s education and an e-book on how children could learn to be smart spenders.

Also, besides teaching children and youth about the value and importance of money and helping them take on seasonal jobs early on, it is important for parents to attend financial literacy workshops. Such workshops will give parents more confidence in their knowledge and skills about money, help them be better role models when it comes to handling money and make them feel more comfortable to initiate such conversations at the dinner table.

If you require additional consultation or a tax planning strategy, please do not hesitate to contact:

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371- 6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/03/23/ontario-launches-plan-to-teach-high-school-kids-financial-skills.html

https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/the-cpa-profession/financial-literacy/financial-literacy-program-faqs

http://theprovince.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-canadian-students-among-top-global-performers-in-financial-literacy

https://itools-ioutils.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/RDCV-BRVC/sear-rech-eng.aspx

https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/jobs-making-money/100-summer-jobs-for-teens/

https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/teaching-children-money.html