The end of February means T4 slips are being sent out and tax returns are being filed. However, for a few enterprising people of the world, the end of February means the beginning of tax scam season.
There are a few popular tax scams currently circulating in the Drumheller area.
CRA phone calls
In this scam, a fraudster will contact you and demand payment for back taxes, often in the form of iTunes gift cards. The fraudster is often threatening and tries to stir up panic. Directly from the CRA: "no matter what, a legitimate organization will NEVER ask you to pay using iTunes gift cards"
This scam is a bit trickier to detect. The CRA does send emails to Canadians, but only to direct them to check their secure MyCRA email (not via a link!) or while on the phone with a CRA agent. Local tech expert Len Denbrok, spoke with 99.5 DrumFM about a CRA phishing email he received earlier this month.
"This Canada Revenue Agency [email] that I got, it says 'you've got a $468 refund waiting for you. Please click here to log into your account and accept your money' and I thought 'OK, yeah, I didn't even do my taxes.'" They're relying on the fact that you're not going to read so, if you actually stopped and read it and thought to yourself 'Hey, wait a minute, I never even did my taxes, so how am I getting a refund?'"
Denbrok explained that clicking a link can download hidden programs and malware onto your computer. He receives around 10-15 computers per week that are infected with hidden software designed to steal your personal information.
"No legit company will ask you to log in or ask you personal questions through an email," he continued. "A legit email will ask you to go to the website and log in the normal way and check. So, if any email ever asks you to click on something in the actual email then it's probably, 99.9 per cent of the time, fake."
This information applies to all companies, but especially to CRA emails. Especially this time of year, many people are receiving correspondence related to their taxes and much of it is misunderstood, giving fraudsters the perfect opportunity to strike.
"This is the Canada Revenue Agency time," reiterated Denbrok. "I've had three emails already from fake Canada Revenue Agency people. Don't click on anything. Canada Revenue Agency will never ask you to click on [a] link to log in."