Phone Scammers – They Even Call Accountants
Imagine my surprise when I arrive home to find a voicemail that insists that I owe money to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and if I don’t return the call they will take legal action. I deal with CRA daily and even though I know CRA would never call and leave a message like this it makes me uncomfortable.
Here’s a script posted on the CRA website which is almost verbatim the message I received:
The reason behind this call is to notify you that we have registered a criminal case against your name concerning a tax evasion and tax fraud in the federal court house. So if you want any further information about this case, please make sure you give us a call back as quick as possible to our direct hotline number to the Canada Revenue Agency Headquarters. That is 1-844-551-0567, I will please repeat the number, it is 1-844-551-0567 If we don’t receive a call from your side, please be prepared to face the legal consequences, as the issue of tax is extremely serious and time-sensitive. So have a blessed time.
Over the course of this week I have received no less than 5 phone calls like this. The threat of action has become more severe over time. The initial call, referenced above, notes that there will be legal action taken against me. The second message was a call from an OPP officer named Jason Miller who is going to come to my house and arrest me if I ignore the message! The second message included a different phone number (343-500-2024) to call or I would be arrested. Both messages were left several times over the last few days.
If in doubt that a voicemail is legitimately from Canada Revenue Agency call 1-800-959-8281 and have them check your account. Any agent from Canada Revenue Agency should be able to give you an agent ID number and first name as reference. CRA will NOT ask you for passport information, health card number or driver’s license. They will however ask you some personal questions to verify who they are speaking to. These questions usually involve verifying phone number, address, social insurance number and often a number from your last year’s tax return or notice of assessment. As long as you KNOW that you have called a legitimate CRA number it is ok to provide these details. When in doubt, hang up and call back on a number you have verified is for Canada Revenue Agency. You can obtain these from the official CRA website: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/
Having access to your account with CRA online allows you to check various tax balances, personal or business at any time of day –very handy if you return home at 7pm to a potentially fraudulent message and need to determine if it’s real or not. Having access through CRA “My Account” allows you to View your personal income tax and benefit information, and manage your tax affairs online: change your return, change your address or telephone number, register to receive online mail, authorize your representative or formally dispute your assessment or determination.
CRA has recently put out this useful infographic showing you how to register and access your account.
Let me be your test case. It’s been one week since my first phone call from these fraudsters and even though I’ve had multiple threats that an officer was going to show up at my door and arrest me it has yet to happen. They want to make you uncomfortable so that you will start to wonder if the calls are legitimate. Don’t let them –call CRA and check your tax balances. Then report the fraudulent phone call with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 or going to their website: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
For a list of additional scams take a look at the real life examples CRA has posted on their website. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html#h5
If you need help or don’t have the information you need, call your accountant. It likely won’t be the first time they’ve heard about the scam and they will give you the peace of mind you need to go to sleep without worrying the police will show up at your door!