With the income tax payment deadline having just passed, the Canada Revenue Agency is naturally on people’s minds.
Perhaps that’s why there’s been a proliferation of reported scam calls from people purporting to represent Canada’s income tax collecting agency. The intimidating callers advise their victims that big bucks are owed to the CRA due to an audit of past years’ income tax returns. They threaten that bank accounts will be frozen, police will be called and court action will result if immediate payment is not made.
As convincing as these scam artists can be, people must always remember that government agencies do not call people up out of the blue and demand instant action of any kind. When it comes to citizen notifications, the CRA deals in slow and steady snail mail. Its personnel will not request personal information via text or email, or ask for people to click on a website link. Another scam taking place these days involves emails suggesting a CRA refund is forthcoming. It instructs recipients to click on a link in the email and provide personal information in order to receive the funds.
Government agencies like the CRA will also not request payments via iTunes gift cards. The lack of logic contained in a gift card payment request is what convinced islander Kathy Dryden that she was being manipulated by a scammer last week. And even though Dryden is a “scam aware” individual, the timing and initial execution of the phone call caught her off guard. She was advised by local RCMP to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which is the only avenue one can take to report incidents like these that originate beyond local RCMP jurisdiction.
Debbie Magnusson, another island resident, describes her experience with a phishing scam in the Driftwood’s letters to the editor section this week. It also involved a demand for payment with iTunes gift cards.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is a useful resource for gleaning information about the latest form of scams — and they are always evolving and becoming more sophisticated in one way or another. The centre also stresses that it is important to share attempted fraud experiences with others, even if it feels embarrassing to do so, and to take protective action afterwards.