Canadians lose millions of dollars every year to frauds and scams. Although the police receive complaints from victims of all ages, unfortunately, many seniors are targeted by scammers. There are many scams out there, but due to it being tax time, I want to highlight the Canadian Revenue Agency Scam.
Originally, the CRA scam involved fraudsters calling you and telling you that you owed tax money from a few years ago. There was some kind of mistake or a reassessment and if you didn’t pay immediately, the caller would dispatch police to your house. The caller would instruct you to wire money to a government account right away. These callers were threatening people and getting very belligerent, using intimidation tactics to scare victims into paying right away.
Durham Regional Police received many distraught 911 calls where the victims were quite worried the police were coming to arrest them because they didn’t have the money to pay these owed taxes right away.
Due to educational efforts around this scam, victims were realizing that the CRA doesn’t call you about back tax money owed. In fact, the CRA’s preferred method of correspondence is a written letter telling you of your tax reassessment.
Now, the scammers are sending out fake CRA reassessment letters. There are instructions to call for more information or to just wire the CRA the money owed. A few hundred dollars multiplied by a couple hundred people can end up being quite a pay day for that criminal.
Here are a few tips before you pay the CRA if you get a letter or telephone call:
1. Always check the telephone number in the letter to be sure it is an actual government number.
2. If it is a CRA caller demanding you pay your tax bill or else…hang up on the person and then call a legitimate government number that you actually look up yourself to see for yourself if you owe money.
3. Double check the method of payment you are being told to use especially if it is different than past ways of paying your tax bill. Call the government and/or speak to your bank.
If you have not lost any money, please file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Association at 1-888-495-8501. If you have been defrauded of money, call your local police service and file a report.
For more information about the most popular scams and frauds, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Association website at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.