Fraudsters steal money and personal information by impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and falsely claim that you have an outstanding balance or a tax refund. They may also use law enforcement and legal threats to pressure you and legitimize their demands. Learn how to protect yourself by understanding the differences between a call from the actual CRA and a scam.
What you need to know
Fraudsters make threats of legal action and arrest warrants to try to force you into making a payment.
CRA scams can happen via phone, text, email or by mail. Look out for aggressive language and suspicious links or forms asking for personal information.
Take your time to understand the situation. Don't let anyone pressure you into making rushed decisions or payments.
Fraudsters steal money and personal information by impersonating the CRA to make their demands seem legitimate. They'll either pressure you with threats of legal or law enforcement action to get you to send money for a false outstanding balance or they'll ask for personal information by pretending to be issuing you a tax refund.
CRA scams typically follow a similar pattern:
A fraudster reaches out to you and says they're from the CRA. This can happen via phone call, email, text message or by mail.
The fraudster will make an urgent request. The request is usually immediate payment for taxes you allegedly owe. Sometimes they'll ask for personal information like your bank account details or Social Insurance Number (SIN) to process a tax refund.
If they're asking for payment, the fraudster will make aggressive threats to force you to pay quickly.
The fraudster may take your money under the pretense that you paid a remaining balance, or steal your identity because you provided personal information.
Signs of a CRA scam
You're told to make an instant payment by Interac e-Transfer® or other payment methods like prepaid cards, gift cards or cryptocurrency
You're threatened with aggressive language, legal action or arrest
You receive an email or text that asks you to enter your personal information or make a payment through a link
You're asked to meet in a public place to make a payment
You receive a text from the CRA. The CRA never communicates with taxpayers through text message or instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp
Stay safe with our tips
Only provide personal or banking information when you've initiated the call to a known number or contact. Never provide it when someone you don't know asks you.
Try to authenticate the caller. Fraudsters can spoof phone numbers to appear legitimate, so don't rely on call display alone.
Take your time to understand the request or situation. The CRA never makes threats about money you owe, so don't rush into making a payment if you're being threatened. To determine if you owe a balance, call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 Opens your phone app..
Don't agree to meet someone in a public place to make a payment.
Set up direct deposit with the CRA so you can receive any refunds efficiently and safely.