Trent Ernst, Editor
We’ve all heard stories of people trying to evade taxes. While there are legal means to lessen the amount of taxes to pay, some people cross the line into less-than-legal ways to avoid taxes.
What many people are not aware of is tax fraud coming from the other direction: being defrauded by the Canadian Government. Or rather, by those you might think are from the Government.
According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), there has been an increase in communication that claims to be from the CRA, but is not. These can be by telephone, mail, or email. In all these cases, the communication requests personal information, such as a social insurance, credit card, bank account, and passport numbers, from the taxpayer. These fraudulent communications are also referred to as scams or phishing.
Typically, says the CRA, the communication argues that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or benefit payment. Another common scam refers the person to a Web site resembling the CRA’s Web site where the person is asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. Taxpayers should not respond to such fraudulent communications.
The CRA does not do the following:
The CRA will not request personal information of any kind from a taxpayer by email.
The CRA will not divulge taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
The CRA will not leave any personal information on an answering machine.
When in doubt, ask yourself the following:
Am I expecting additional money from the CRA?
Does this sound too good to be true?
Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
How did the requester get my email address?
Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
The CRA will continue to post notifications of fraudulent communications as we become aware of them and encourages you to check our Web site should you have concerns.
The CRA will occasionally leave messages for taxpayers on their answering machines. In these cases, a callback number will be provided along with a request to have the taxpayer’s SIN available upon callback. However, says the CRA, it is important to note that not all telephone messages purporting to be from the CRA are genuine. Should taxpayers wish to verify the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, they should contact the CRA directly by using the numbers on our Telephone numbers page. For business-related calls, contact 1-800-959-5525 and for individual concerns, contact 1-800-959-8281.
SOME EXAMPLES OF PHISHING EMAILS
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 5:23 PM
Subject: INTERAC e-Transfer from Canada Revenue Agency System
Canada Revenue Agency has sent you an INTERAC e-Transfer\
(previously INTERAC Email Money Transfer).
Amount: $120.00 (CAD)
Sender’s Message: A message was not provided
Expiry Date: 25 June 2012
To deposit your money, click here:
From: Canada Revenue Agency [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: May 25, 2011 2:20 PM
Subject: FW: Tax Evasion Importance: High
Dear tax payer,
A federal complaint has been filled against you and the company you are affiliated with, by using our Informant Leads Program . The complaint contains evidence that you are directly involved in tax evasion schemes.
The mandate of the Informant Leads Program is to co-ordinate all leads that the CRA receives from informants, to determine if there is an element of non-compliance with tax legislation, and to ensure that appropriate enforcement action is taken.
Before a criminal investigation is started, you will be required to give us an official statement.
In order to do so, please visit us at the nearest CRA Informant Leads Centre in your region. For a complete list of the our offices and for more information regarding this matter, please visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/nvstgtns/lds-eng.html The complaint can be downloaded, in Microsoft Word format, from:
Thank you, Canada Revenue Agency
Tax Evasion Department