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OPP again warning of CRA telephone scam

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The Rainy River District OPP wants you to confirm who you're dealing with before sending any money anywhere for any reason.

The ever-popular Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and other agency-related extortion threats have continued to sustain significant financial losses by unsuspecting victims.

In 2017, this extortion and “phishing” scam claimed 1,544 victims in Ontario, losing roughly $3 million from more than 8,576 complaints.

And police admit only five percent of the crimes actually are reported.

In the typical CRA scam, the criminals extort money from their victims by telephone, mail, text message, or e-mail—a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.

A new twist is that fraudsters will leave a pre-recorded, clear message on your voicemail impersonating the real CRA.

Fraudsters either are “phishing” for your identification or asking that outstanding taxes be paid by a money service business or by pre-paid debit/credit cards.

They may insist this personal information is needed so the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment.

Cases of fraudulent communication also could involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA.

Other communications, such as texting, urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website, where the taxpayer then is asked to verify their identity by entering personal information.

Before you respond to any type of communication, think first that this is a scam.

Individuals never should respond to these fraudulent communications nor click on any of the links provided.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Urgency

The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.

For example, they may say “the police are on their way to arrest you.”

  • Request for money transfer

Money usually is requested to be sent by a money transfer company such as Money Gram, Western Union, or even through your own bank institution.

The CRA never will request by e-mail, text, or phone any personal information such as passport, credit card, or bank account information.

To avoid becoming a victim, police advise you to hang up, then check and verify the information with CRA by calling a trusted phone number in which you have found and not the number provided by the caller.

If you or someone you know suspect they've been a victim of the CRA scam, check with a Canada Revenue Agency official and contact your local police service and/or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

You also can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm

Remember to recognize, reject, and report fraud.

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