Cops warn of scammers using fake claims of tax refunds
With the deadline to file tax returns approaching, police are warning of scammers attempting to defraud people of their personal information.
The RCMP has issued a warning to taxpayers to be on the lookout for fake emails and phone calls claiming to be from officials of the Canada Revenue Service.
One recent email mimicked the style of a Canada Revenue Agency email, including the use of the CRA's logo. The email claimed that the recipient is due a tax refund but to claim the money, they must submit information such as their social insurance number.
Helen Zolna Abrams was harassed for weeks by someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency who wanted personal information.
"It scared me. I think it would scare many people He sounded very serious, he called saying he was a sergeant," said Zolna Abrams.
Zolna Abrams checked with her accountant who who told her she owed nothing, that the call was indeed a scam. Still, the fraud artist kept trying, claiming he was "Officer Ryan Smith from Revenue of Canada."
Tens of thousands of Canadians received similar fraudulent calls last year and as tax season reaches its peak this month, scammers are expected to try other methods.
The most common is through email, where recipients get a message that appears legitimate.
According to the CRA, the agency would never send an email and any refunds are sent by cheque or direct deposit. The agency advises against clicking on any links in such emails.
"It's known as spearphishing," said Terry Cutler, a cybersecurity expert.
"They're targetting specific people they think will fall for this scam and it will look like the real deal."
Many web pages look legitimate but are only designed to steal personal information.
"You click on this link and they ask to fill out a form and it's going to be the first and last name, date of birth, social insurance number, maybe your credit card data," said Cutler.
"When you click the scammers see exactly what you're typing in."
With that information it's possible for thieves to empty bank accounts in a matter of minutes.
The problem is so prevalent that the revenue agency keeps tab on its website of all the latest scams.
When in doubt, taxpayers are advised to log into their account on the CRA website to determine the status of their return and of any refunds.