With the holidays just around the corner, scammers could contact you pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Scammers are trying to trick individuals into making payments, but the CRA is doing everything they can to put a stop to this. That includes letting you know when and how the CRA might contact you.
How to make sure the caller is a CRA employee and not a scammer
A legitimate CRA employee will identify themselves when they contact you. The employee will give you their name and a phone number. Make sure the caller is a CRA employee before you give any information over the phone. This will protect you from giving money or personal information to a scammer.
If you’re suspicious, this is how you can make sure the caller is from the CRA:
- Tell the caller you would like to first verify their identity.
- Request and make a note of their:
- phone number
- office location
- End the call. Then check that the information provided during the call was legitimate by contacting the CRA. Please do this before you give any information to the caller.
Once you complete those three steps, you may call back the CRA employee to discuss the reason for their call.
Note that the CRA's individual tax, benefits and business enquiries lines offer an automated call back service. When wait times reach a certain threshold, you will be given the option of a callback, rather than waiting on hold. If you opt for a callback, they will give you a randomized four-digit confirmation number. This number will be repeated back to you by the call centre agent at the time of the callback. This is to provide you with assurance that the call is from a legitimate CRA employee.
When to be suspicious
Red flags that suggest a caller is a scammer include (but are not limited to):
- The caller does not give you proof of working for the CRA. For example, their name and office location.
- The caller pressures you to act now or uses aggressive language.
- The caller asks you to pay with prepaid credit cards, gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual form of payment.
- The caller asks for information you would not enter on your return or that is not related to money you owe the CRA, for example, a credit card number.
- The caller recommends that you apply for benefits. You can apply for benefits directly on Government of Canada websites or by phone. Do not give information to callers offering to apply for benefits on your behalf!
For more tips and helpful information, visit the Be Scam Smart or Slam the scam pages.
The CRA may review your return
One reason the CRA may contact you is if they are reviewing your income tax and benefit return. This could include reviewing you GST/HST, T4 or T5 information. You may receive a letter or a phone call telling you that the CRA is reviewing your return. If you're registered for email notifications, they will send you an email telling you that your letter is available in My Account. In most cases, the review is a routine check. It’s important that you reply and send all of the information requested as soon as possible. This will help them review your file quickly and easily.
It’s also important that you call the number in your letter in either of the following situations:
- You can’t get the documents the CRA is asking for
- You need more time to reply
By calling, the CRA can give you more time to respond if you need it. They can also help you if you have any questions. If you don’t reply, they may disallow a claim of yours and you could have a balance owing.
If you own a small business or are self-employed, the CRA may call you or send you a letter to offer free tax help through the Liaison Officer service. This will be the first contact. The CRA will only use email if you provide your email address and consent to do so.
Want to report a potential scam?
You should report a scam if you suspect either of the following:
- you have been the victim of fraud
- a scammer has tricked you into giving personal or financial information
To report a scam, visit antifraudcentre.ca, follow the instructions on the Be Scam Smart page, or call 1-888-495-8501. If you think you may be the victim of fraud or you unknowingly provided personal or financial information, contact all of the following:
- local police service
- your financial institution
- credit reporting agencies
You should contact the CRA if you:
- think your CRA user ID or the password you use in personal dealings with the CRA has been compromised
- want to disable online access to your information on the CRA’s sign-in services
- want to re-activate online access to your information after it’s been disabled