The “CRA scam” - when scammers try to dupe you into believing they are representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) - has many forms, including phone, email and text message. Here are just some of the hooks scammers use to try to trick you into divulging personal information:

  • “I’m an Officer with the CRA and we have proof that you filed your taxes incorrectly. You owe $1520 in back taxes and you need to make this payment in bitcoin immediately to avoid further penalties.“
  • “You owe money to the CRA. We will send your file to a collection agency. Contact us now.”
  • “You have a refund of $750 this year. Click here to claim it. Link expires in 5 days.”

How to spot tax season scams

The calls, emails and texts can look and sound authentic – and threatening. There are very often red flags that the communication is a scam:

  1. Does the call or voicemail make threats about debt that you owe the CRA?
  2. Does the email, call or text convey a sense of urgency or a warning that they’ll contact police if you don’t reply?
  3. Does the email or text ask you to click on a link and verify your identity by entering personal information so you can receive a refund or benefit payment?

The CRA has information on its website about how to verify if it is the CRA that is legitimately trying to contact you.

An example of a fake email that purports to come from the CRA

The CRA will never:

  • send an email with a link asking you to divulge personal or financial information.
  • call you and threaten you with arrest or that they will send police.
  • send you an email with a link to your refund.
  • demand payments by prepaid credit card, on-line music gift cards or bitcoin.
  • send you a text or instant message about anything. The CRA never uses text or instant messages to communicate with taxpayers under any circumstance.

If you receive a call saying you owe money to the CRA, you can call them directly or check your online CRA account If you believe you have mistakenly provided your financial information to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediatly.