As we are soon approaching tax season, many of us are keeping our guard up and preparing for scams that can potentially put our money and personal information at risk. Fraudsters use this stressful time of year to take advantage of trusting people who are filing for their tax returns, and with many Canadians being online more than ever due to the COVID pandemic, it has made it easier for them to emerge from the shadows to take action on your data.
According to a Global News article, the RCMP say one scam that makes the rounds in March is commonly known as the Canada Revenue Agency scam or CRA scam. In most cases, fraudsters trick their victims into paying money for an outstanding tax amount due, or by asking them to disclose personal financial information. It is also common for them to scare their victims into doing what they want by threats of jail or arrest if they don’t comply.
The best weapon to combat tax scams is awareness. Here are some of the most common scams to be aware of during tax season:
- Phone Scams: The two most common forms of phone scams are robocalls and imposter calls. Robocalls are pre-recorded messages that allows them to reach numerous victims from any part of the world. These calls will often direct victims to visit a site, where fraudsters can steal their personal data or a call center that will attempt to collect payments for false debts. Imposter calls is when a person is falsely representing themselves as a CRA representative. They often demand money immediately and threaten their victims with arrest if they don’t do so.
- Email Phishing Scams: There can be instances where the CRA might contact you by email. It is usually done during a phone call with a CRA agent or when they send you messages/documents on a secure CRA account which can include My Account, My Business Account, etc. If neither of these is the case, you can rest assured that this is most likely a phishing scam and should not engage with it.
- Text and Instant Message Scams: This is the easiest of all to identify. The CRA will NEVER contact you through instant messaging of any sort. Text messages, WhatsApp messages, Facebook messages, and any other similar messaging services will never be used by the CRA. If you receive messages like these, delete it immediately and do not click on any links associated with the message.
If you are ever in doubt of the legitimacy of a CRA agent through any means of communication, trust your instinct and contact the Canada Revenue Agency directly. Follow these additional tips to keep your digital life safe and prevent yourself from falling victim:
- Use Netsweeper solutions: Protect your network by using Netsweeper’s web filtering solutions against malicious or hacked websites. This scalable solution will stop attackers from penetrating your network right at the gateway, preventing cyberattacks or loss of sensitive data.
- Use password protection: Always log out of websites that has your personal information and log out of screens when not in use to prevent anyone from gaining access to it.
- Use safety with physical security: Although most of our finances are done online, mail theft still occurs. Lock your mailbox so that thieves don’t have the chance to steal mail containing your personal or financial information on it.