Ask an accountant: CRA phone scam

Francesca Giroux, CGA
For the Lakeside Leader

Don’t be fooled by the most recent phone scam where callers are pretending to be an agent with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and issuing threats such as court charges, asset seizure, deportation and jail time for failure to pay fake outstanding tax debt. Canadians across the country are receiving phone calls informing them that they have tax debt and that this must be collected immediately. Reports have indicated that the amounts being requested are generally between $700 – $2,500. These amounts have been requested to be paid by mailing in prepaid cards as payment, as well as Western Union transfer or your bank’s own E-Transfer service. It is important to note that none of these methods of payment are accepted by the CRA for payment of amounts owing.

With regards to CRA’s collection policy they would also not threaten to arrest people if an immediate payment isn’t made. The CRA never requests information from a taxpayer regarding their passport, health care card or driver’s license. The CRA also will never divulge information to another person unless written formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer, and the CRA will never leave personal information on an answering machine or ask taxpayers to leave a message with their personal information on an answering machine.

If you receive a call such as the ones described, before providing any information consider if the requester is asking for information that would not be included on your tax return, and if the requester is asking for information that the CRA would already have on file.

Another red flag is if the caller is incredibly persistent, urging you to pay quickly or giving a tight deadline to pay the alleged tax debt. If you have any of the above red flags do not provide personal information or arrange for the payments being asked. To verify if you do have outstanding debt you can contact the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 (individuals) or 1-800-959-5525 (businesses) to speak with a CRA representative.

If you receive a call such as the ones described above please ignore them and report the call to the RCMP.

For information on scams and how to report deceptive telemarketing go to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Web Page

Please e-mail your questions to [email protected]
Information provided is of a general nature. As each individual or company’s situation is unique, you may wish to consult with your CPA for information specific to your own needs.

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