VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The end of April means that the time for filing taxes is nearly up, which the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns is an opportunity for scammers. Karla Davis with the BBB says tax scams are actually considered the second most common by the Bureau’s top ten list.
“Tax scams are not unfamiliar to us, it’s definitely one of those scams that we have to pay attention to because just in 2018 alone Canadians lost over $6 million to this scam,” said Davis
To gather valuable information like your address, name, and SIN number, scammers have gotten creative beyond phoney calls posing as the CRA, Davis added. In some cases pre-addressed return envelopes have even been used by scammers hoping to convince people to ship personal info to non-government addresses, she noted.
Although most people would like to think they wouldn’t fall for it, the BBB says overconfidence can actually do more harm: “Especially [with] millennials, they do have a tendency to just look at the main thing which would be a logo or a request for information and signatures, and just say ‘oh it’s coming from the CRA,’ when it’s not.”
According to Davis, identity theft can begin with simple communication back and forth, but the consequences of even the slightest slip up can go beyond just losing your 2019 tax return.
“If the scammer has that kind of confidential information they can assume your identity, take out loans, and apply for jobs in your name,” she added.
The BBB says seniors, millennials, and immigrants are targeted the most because the scams often take advantage of those who are “the least informed about how the government communicates and interacts with citizens.” Text messages, calls, and emails make passing along personal info easier and that convenience is enough to convince some.
But there are certain red flags that Davis said people can look out for. “Trends that we saw coming in a lot of reports we received included aggression or a threatening tone, pressure to make payments right away, that is not how the CRA or any government agency operates.”
Emails and letters are the only communications the CRA uses, any phone calls claiming to carry those government powers should be hung up, Davis added. To be safe from scammers, the BBB recommends filing your taxes early to ensure that your refund isn’t claimed by a scammer submitting fraudulent files.