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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The CRA never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have given the appropriate authorization.
- 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.
- 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
Shani Marzin, CPA, CA
S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9