Does the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) Call You?
Believe it or not, there are new scams invented daily no matter what country you currently live in. As a taxpayer, you must stay vigilant and up to date on new scams as much as you can. When receiving phone calls, mail, text messages or email, fraudulent communication is always a possibility. These scams may insist on providing your personal information such as a SIN, credit card number or bank account number. The question is how do you know if they are legitimate or not? This has been on many Canadian’s minds as scams become more consistent and more realistic sounding. Some cases involving fraudulence can also include threatening or intimidating tactics in order to frighten you into paying the fake debt to the CRA. To this point, it is common for CRA agents to be faced with hesitation and straight-up refusal to co-operate when dealing with a legitimate claim.
Currently, in Vancouver, there is no shortage of scams going around. If you fear that you have been or are currently being targeted for a phone scam, email scam or mail scam, CPA firms, CPA tax firms, and accounting firms in Vancouver such as Genesa CPA Corp, are a great place to start asking your questions.
In an effort to aid Canadians with differentiating real from fake agents and claims, the CRA has published a checklist outlining the reasons why they might contact you, as well as clues on how to avoid being scammed out of your hard-earned money.
Reasons why the CRA may call you
The CRA may call if they previously wrote to you, or in any of these situations:
- If you owe tax or money to a government program – a collections officer may call you to discuss your file and ask you to make a payment. In this case, you may need to provide some information about your financial situation.
- If you did not file your income tax and benefit return – they may call you to ask for the missing return.
- If you did not file your GST/HST return.
- If they have questions about the tax and benefit documents you sent.
- If you operate a small business, they may call to offer free tax help through their Liaison Officer program.
- If they have questions about your new business registration.
- If they have questions regarding a limited review of your Corporate Return.
The CRA may
- Ask for verification of your identity by asking for personal information; for example, your full name, date of birth, address and account number or Social insurance number
- Ask for details about your personal or business account
- Call to begin an audit process
Reasons Why the CRA Might Send Mail
- To send you or notify you of an assessment or reassessment
- Ask you to pay an amount you currently owe through one of the CRA’s payments options
- To take legal action in order to recover the money you owe, if you refuse to pay your debt
- To begin an audit process
- To offer you free tax help for your small business
Reasons Why the CRA Might Send an Email
- To notify you that a new message or document is available for you to review in a secure CRA portal such as My Account, or Represent a Client
- To send you an official link to a CRA webpage or forms to be printed and filled out
The CRA will Never in Any Tax-related Case or Situation
- Met up with you in a public place to make a payment
- Give or ask for personal or financial info by email, and then ask you to click on a link
- Send you an email with a link to your refund
- Ask for info about your passport, health card or driver’s license
- Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers
- Use crude or aggressive language or tone
- threaten you with arrest or sending the police to come and get you
- Leave voicemails of a threatening nature or including personal or financial information.
- Use text messages or instant messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or Instagram messaging to communicate with Canadian taxpayers.
It can be very frustrating and scary when you are on the receiving side of a scam. Remember, you are in control. If you are unsure, ask for the caller’s name, work section and office location. Tell them that you want to first verify their identity. Luckily, the CRA has an information hotline set up to check if the employee calling you about your taxes does in-fact work for the CRA. You can call: 1-800-959-8281(personal/individual) or 1-800-959-5525(business).
Finally, if you are still having doubts, ask yourself these questions: Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received any previous correspondence from the CRA about this situation? Is the caller/email asking for information I wouldn’t give on my tax return or that is not related to an amount I owe to the CRA?
Overall, make sure you feel comfortable with the situation, if you don’t feel comfortable, take control of the situation and politely tell the caller that you would like to call the CRA yourself to deal with the situation at hand. If you have any questions about CRA or tax, please contact our Vancouver accounting company.