(Contributed photo).

Red Deer firefighter warns the public about identity theft tax scam

Mike Godwin was almost victimized by $18,000 refund scam

A Red Deer firefighter discovered an identity thief had beaten him to claiming his 2018 income tax return.

When Mike Godwin’s accounting firm tried to submit his 2018 tax claim, they found out a fraudster had already claimed an $18,000 tax refund by creating a fake profile.

“I was stressed, very stressed,” said Godwin of Red Deer Emergency Services.

He was not only worried about the money he could have lost from the Canada Revenue Agency, but also about a criminal having his social insurance number and personal information.

“I wondered what they could do next? Could they try to get a credit card, or take out a loan….?”

Godwin managed to stop the scam early by notifying CRA and the police. He also alerted his banks, credit card companies and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While the direct deposits from CRA were found before any money was taken out, he’s warning others to be on the alert this tax season.

Godwin found out last week from his accountants that someone with his social insurance number and 2017 tax information had created a bogus tax profile and gained access to his online information on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

When his accounting firm attempted to electronically file his taxes, they were notified this had already been done.

Godwin, who heard the same thing happened to another Red Deer couple, is stumped as to how his personal information leaked out. There was no home break-in, and no business or agency had notified him of a security breach.

A spokesperson from the CRA stated this kind of scam is rare, as there are strong security measures in place when registering for online services. Individuals are asked to verify their tax information, social insurance number, birth date and last year’s income.

Godwin wants other central Albertans to know about this so they don’t fall victim to identity theft. He said no one should discard any personal papers, especially last year’s tax information or credit card bills, without shredding them first.

For those who aren’t ready to file their tax forms until the April 29 deadline, and are worried about their profile on CRA’s website, he invites them to check it out now. Any unauthorized activity needs to be reported immediately.

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