It’s that time of year. Tax season.
And with tax season comes the inevitable uptick of scam callers claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or pretending to be police calling on behalf of the CRA. They’ll try to get social insurance numbers and other personal information, and they’ll try to get some sort of remittance.
Don’t fall for it. Hang up.
No police officer is going to call anyone about their taxes.
“No, we can’t file your taxes for you,” said Sgt. Peter DeVries of the North Vancouver RCMP. “We have our own to file. But we can warn you about the different ways thieves and fraudsters may try to take advantage of you during tax season.”
While this advisory comes from a detachment outside the Trail area, it’s still very relevant to calls locals will undoubtedly be getting over the next several months.
“I’ve been targeted just like many other people,” said DeVries. “Telephone scams often start with an automated, computer-like voice telling you to press the number #1 for an important announcement from CRA. People who press one are then connected to a fake CRA agent.”
One of the first things they will do is ask your name, DeVries continued.
“They’ll sound irritated and aggressive, they’ll quote fabricated file numbers, they’ll invoke made-up rules about courts and judges, and they’ll make you feel like they have a target on you,” he said.
“In reality, they don’t even know your name. Once you give it to them, then they pretend they’ve had it all along. Once they’ve stressed you right out, they’ll tell you the only way to avoid arrest is by paying a fine.”
To avoid becoming a victim of CRA tax scams, be aware that:
The CRA will not call and threaten you to pay a tax debt;
The CRA will not call, leave a voice message, text or email you advising of a warrant of arrest for a tax debt;
The CRA will not request that you pay a tax debt through the use of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin or gift cards;
The CRA will not have you deported if you do not pay an owed tax debt;
If something feels unusual, or there’s the slightest inkling this may be a tax scam, stop and hang up the phone.
DeVries also warns about the prevalence of hands-on mail thieves, stealthily at-the-ready to pilfer personal papers left in mailboxes.
“These people love to get your personal information,” DeVries warns. “In the worst of these cases, they will apply for credit cards and bank accounts in your name and then rack up huge bills that you might only discover once collection agencies start calling you.”
To reduce the chances of becoming a victim of mail theft:
Collect your mail frequently, at least daily;
If you plan to travel, have a friend or trusted neighbour regularly collect your mail;
When you change your address, make sure to notify your mailers;
Before recycling, shred documents that contain personal information;
Report suspicious activities around mailboxes to police.