How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

OTTAWA — The scam is a common one: a phone call claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency demanding an immediate payment.

If you think it might really be the government calling you about your taxes, you should verify it is before you do anything, experts say.

Cherolle Prince, a financial crimes expert at KPMG, says you want to trust, but verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any information.

“Ask the right questions to yourself, does this call make sense,” she said. “Why does the CRA need that information? Have I provided that to them already? What would they be doing with that information and why do they need it now?”

Prince says a red flag may be if the caller is asking for information over the phone that CRA should already have if they are calling you.

“If you call them, they may ask for personal information as a way to identify you, it is part of their authentication protocol, but they would not call you for that information,” she said.

CRA spokesman Paul Murphy says if you’re unsure it really is the tax agency calling that you should to ask the caller for their name, which CRA office they are calling from and their phone number.

Then, Murphy says, hang up and contact CRA using the general inquiry number on the agency’s website before you provide any information and ask them to verify that the call was legitimate.

“The call display option isn’t always the best because these scammers will use technology to spoof that they are calling from Canada, that they are calling from Ottawa or what have you,” he said.

Murphy says CRA will never demand immediate payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.

Another red flag, Murphy says, is if the caller tells you not to talk to anyone such as a family member or your accountant about the matter.

“That’s not something a CRA employee would ever demand of you. You have a right to have representation, you have the right to talk to somebody about your personal tax dealings before you deal with the CRA,” he said.

Just because CRA is calling it doesn’t mean you’re facing an audit. In most cases, the agency says, it is a routine check.

Depending on the circumstances, if you filed your tax return electronically, the agency may be seeking things like RRSP or charitable contribution receipts that would have been filed if you had filed a paper tax return.

Carmela Pallotto, a tax partner at KPMG, says an initial phone call from CRA is very rare.

“It is not unheard of, but normally they would correspond by mail and not by email either,” she said.

“They do not email unless you’ve already entered into some sort of dialogue with them and you’ve asked them to email you something and even then they are extremely hesitant to email you anything, that’s just not the way they operate.”

Pallotto said if the caller is demanding immediate payment, that’s just not how CRA works.

“It’s never immediate. They usually give you a period of time to respond to a request because they understand you might not have everything readily available,” she said.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to have to call CRA back.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.

Craig Wong, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version included an imprecise description of when the CRA may ask for personal information.

Scams

Just Posted

A small selection of shoes line a step at the municipal government building in Sylvan Lake, with each pair representing a vicitm of residential schools in Canada. Tracey Greinke placed the first pair of shoes on the steps, hoping more would follow. (Photo by Megan Roth/Black Press news services)
Sylvan Lake woman sets up small memorial for residential school victims

Tracey Grienke placed a pair of moccasins on the steps of town hall, and a few more followed

A section of the eastern slopes south west of Longview, Alta., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A new report finds big differences in how different governments have responded to Canada’s promise to increase the amount of land it protects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A for Quebec, F for Alberta: Study rates Canadian governments on conservation

Report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in memory of those killed during WWII as he takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, marking the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Putin hails WWII heroes, warns of degrading Europe security

Kremlin anxious to see international recognition of wartime sacrifices and its role in defeating Nazis

FILE - In this May 19, 2021, file photo, mice scurry around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham, Australia. A mouse plague that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from wall cavities and ceilings, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Australian prison to be evacuated after mice move in

Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell looks at his papers as Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, background left, talks to Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides during a European Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting at the European Council building in Luxembourg, Monday, June 21, 2021. EU foreign ministers were set to approve Monday a new set of sanctions against scores of officials in Belarus and prepare a series of measures aimed at the country’s economy. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
EU, US, UK, Canada join forces to slap sanctions on Belarus

Asset freezes and travel bans also imposed

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

FILE - Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Toronto FC’s Zavaleta wastes little time settling in with El Salvador national team

Indiana-born Zavaleta qualifies for El Salvador through his father

Summer McIntosh swims her way to first place in the Women’s 800m Freestyle at the 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials in Toronto, Monday, June 21, 2021. McIntosh, who edged Rio Olympic star Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle final a day earlier, picked up where she left off in the women’s 800-metre freestyle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Summer Time: 14-year-old McIntosh wins again at Olympic swim trials

McIntosh will be one of the youngest athletes in Tokyo

This undated photo provided by Walt Disney World shows Disney characters at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World is planning an 18-month celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary, starting in October 2021. Disney announced Tuesday, June 22 that all four parks at the resort will take part in “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” (Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World via AP)
Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts Oct. 1

Favorite Disney characters will be part of a collection of special golden sculptures at all four parks

Columnist Treena Mielke
Family: When rain cancels ball game

The wild roses are out, blooming in roadside ditches, their gentle beauty… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson, center, tries to get position for a shot against New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Vasilevskiy pace Lightning’s 8-0 rout of Islanders

Lightning 8 Islanders 0 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2) TAMPA, Fla. —… Continue reading

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s ‘convinced’ the city will be able to get rid of the mandatory mask bylaw in July. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
‘Made in Calgary’ approach will keep mask requirements past Alberta’s total reopening

Calgary won’t be following provincial recommendations on the mandatory wearing of masks… Continue reading

Most Read