CRA Scam Still Surfacing

January 18, 2017

Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people to be alert for threatening calls from scammers pretending to work with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). With tax season quickly approaching, the BBB warns that scammers will more frequently call residents to threaten action regarding unpaid taxes.

 "Don't underestiate how intimidating these calls can be," says BBB's CEO Peter Moorhouse. "The people who make these calls are literally trained to be as threatening as possible. It can be very frightening for the person on the other end of the line."

Late last year, with the closure of a Mumbai call centre, both the CRA and IRS reported a dramatic drop in the frequency of these calls, but it is almost certain that another will take its place.

The callers often use fake account numbers and fake names to confuse the target, but they also accuse people of fraud and deliberately misleading CRA. This may cause some targets to feel bad and second guess themselves and then send money to get out of trouble.

CRA informs people that they would never ask for money to be sent via money transfer or prepaid card. As well, they ask people to contact them anytime a threatening or unusual phone calls references your taxes. BBB also recommends reporting the call online using Scam Tracker, which can be found at BBB’s website.

BBB has the following tips to avoid this and other phone scams.

  • Be suspicious if a caller identifies himself as from CRA or another government agency. The CRA only sends letters about tax problems to taxpayers by postal mail.
  • Be skeptical if the person calling wants you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Scammers like to receive money that way because it’s almost impossible to trace who got the money and equally unlikely you’ll get the money back.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID to identify a number. Just as email scammers can spoof email addresses, phone scammers have ways of making calls look like they’re coming from a familiar number or even your own phone number.
  • If you get a cell phone call from an unfamiliar number, check the number online before you return the call. Be especially careful about calls from unfamiliar area codes. Some “one-ring” scams have originated from the following area codes: 268, 274, 473, 809 and 876.
  • Sign up for the no-call list administered by the Canadian Radio – Television and Telecommunications Commission.
  • Never give an unsolicited caller access to your computer. If you are having trouble with a computer or software, contact the supplier directly through a customer service phone number, website or email address on your bill or on the supplier’s website.