How to avoid scams this tax season

By Nicole Chiu, CEIT

Tax season is upon us and scammers are hard at work looking for potential targets. Everyone, students included, should be extra cautious during this time of year when receiving calls, text messages and emails from people claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These online attackers will impersonate the CRA to try to trick you into revealing personal or financial information. 

Whether it’s a phishing email saying you’ve received a financial aid refund from student loans, or a text message with an e-transfer saying it’s from the CRA, falling prey to these scams could result in identity theft and leave you at a financial loss.

Here’s what you need to know when you receive a call, text message, or an email from someone claiming to be from the CRA.

Things the CRA will never do when contacting you:

  • Contact you by text message – the CRA never uses text messages to communicate with taxpayers
  • Ask for information about your passport, Care Card or driver’s license
  • Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit card or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon or others
  • Use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or police action
  • Leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information
  • Give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
  • Email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • Send you an email with a link to your refund
  • Set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment

Things the CRA might do when contacting you:

  • Ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location
  • Ask you to pay an amount you owe through any of the CRA’s payment options
  • Take legal action to recover the money you owe if you refuse to pay your debt
  • Notify you by email when a new message or a document, such as a notice of assessment or reassessment, is available for you to view through a secure CRA portal
  • Email you a link to a CRA webpage, form or publication that you ask for during a telephone call or a meeting with an agent (this is the only case where the CRA will send an email containing links)

If you think you’ve received a fraudulent email or text message do not respond to the message. Do not click on any links or open any attachments. Delete these messages. If you receive a suspicious phone call, do not give out any personal information and end the call. If you think you’ve been tricked into providing your personal or financial information, contact your local police.

To learn more about protecting yourself from scams and frauds, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

To learn more about IT Security and tips to be safe online, visit the Douglas College IT Security page

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